Part 1 - Emma Audiobook by Jane Austen (Vol 1: Chs 01-09)

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Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy
disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived
nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father;
and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a
very early period.
Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of
her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as
governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as a governess
than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma.
Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters.
Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the
mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow
of authority being now long passed away,
they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma
doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed
chiefly by her own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much
her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the
disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments.
The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means
rank as misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came--a gentle sorrow--but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable
consciousness.--Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylor's loss which first
brought grief.
It was on the wedding-day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful
thought of any continuance.
The wedding over, and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to
dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening.
Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to
sit and think of what she had lost. The event had every promise of happiness
for her friend.
Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age, and
pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering with what self-
denying, generous friendship she had always
wished and promoted the match; but it was a black morning's work for her.
The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day.
She recalled her past kindness--the kindness, the affection of sixteen years--
how she had taught and how she had played with her from five years old--how she had
devoted all her powers to attach and amuse
her in health--and how nursed her through the various illnesses of childhood.
A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but the intercourse of the last seven
years, the equal footing and perfect unreserve which had soon followed
Isabella's marriage, on their being left to
each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection.
She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent, well-informed,
useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and
peculiarly interested in herself, in every
pleasure, every scheme of hers--one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose,
and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change?--It was true that her friend was going only half a
mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs.
Weston, only half a mile from them, and a
Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was
now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude.
She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her.
He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.
The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had not married
early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a
valetudinarian all his life, without
activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though
everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his
talents could not have recommended him at any time.
Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being settled in
London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily reach; and many a long
October and November evening must be
struggled through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the next visit from
Isabella and her husband, and their little children, to fill the house, and give her
pleasant society again.
Highbury, the large and populous village, almost amounting to a town, to which
Hartfield, in spite of its separate lawn, and shrubberies, and name, did really
belong, afforded her no equals.
The Woodhouses were first in consequence there.
All looked up to them.
She had many acquaintance in the place, for her father was universally civil, but not
one among them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss Taylor for even half a day.
It was a melancholy change; and Emma could not but sigh over it, and wish for
impossible things, till her father awoke, and made it necessary to be cheerful.
His spirits required support.
He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of every body that he was used to, and
hating to part with them; hating change of every kind.
Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable; and he was by no means
yet reconciled to his own daughter's marrying, nor could ever speak of her but
with compassion, though it had been
entirely a match of affection, when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor too;
and from his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to suppose that
other people could feel differently from
himself, he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing for
herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the
rest of her life at Hartfield.
Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him from such thoughts;
but when tea came, it was impossible for him not to say exactly as he had said at
"Poor Miss Taylor!--I wish she were here again.
What a pity it is that Mr. Weston ever thought of her!"
"I cannot agree with you, papa; you know I cannot.
Mr. Weston is such a good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man, that he thoroughly
deserves a good wife;--and you would not have had Miss Taylor live with us for ever,
and bear all my odd humours, when she might have a house of her own?"
"A house of her own!--But where is the advantage of a house of her own?
This is three times as large.--And you have never any odd humours, my dear."
"How often we shall be going to see them, and they coming to see us!--We shall be
always meeting!
We must begin; we must go and pay wedding visit very soon."
"My dear, how am I to get so far? Randalls is such a distance.
I could not walk half so far."
"No, papa, nobody thought of your walking. We must go in the carriage, to be sure."
"The carriage!
But James will not like to put the horses to for such a little way;--and where are
the poor horses to be while we are paying our visit?"
"They are to be put into Mr. Weston's stable, papa.
You know we have settled all that already. We talked it all over with Mr. Weston last
And as for James, you may be very sure he will always like going to Randalls, because
of his daughter's being housemaid there. I only doubt whether he will ever take us
anywhere else.
That was your doing, papa. You got Hannah that good place.
Nobody thought of Hannah till you mentioned her--James is so obliged to you!"
"I am very glad I did think of her.
It was very lucky, for I would not have had poor James think himself slighted upon any
account; and I am sure she will make a very good servant: she is a civil, pretty-spoken
girl; I have a great opinion of her.
Whenever I see her, she always curtseys and asks me how I do, in a very pretty manner;
and when you have had her here to do needlework, I observe she always turns the
lock of the door the right way and never bangs it.
I am sure she will be an excellent servant; and it will be a great comfort to poor Miss
Taylor to have somebody about her that she is used to see.
Whenever James goes over to see his daughter, you know, she will be hearing of
us. He will be able to tell her how we all
Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of ideas, and hoped, by the
help of backgammon, to get her father tolerably through the evening, and be
attacked by no regrets but her own.
The backgammon-table was placed; but a visitor immediately afterwards walked in
and made it unnecessary.
Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty, was not only a very
old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it, as the
elder brother of Isabella's husband.
He lived about a mile from Highbury, was a frequent visitor, and always welcome, and
at this time more welcome than usual, as coming directly from their mutual
connexions in London.
He had returned to a late dinner, after some days' absence, and now walked up to
Hartfield to say that all were well in Brunswick Square.
It was a happy circumstance, and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time.
Mr. Knightley had a cheerful manner, which always did him good; and his many inquiries
after "poor Isabella" and her children were answered most satisfactorily.
When this was over, Mr. Woodhouse gratefully observed, "It is very kind of
you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us.
I am afraid you must have had a shocking walk."
"Not at all, sir.
It is a beautiful moonlight night; and so mild that I must draw back from your great
fire." "But you must have found it very damp and
I wish you may not catch cold." "Dirty, sir!
Look at my shoes. Not a speck on them."
"Well! that is quite surprising, for we have had a vast deal of rain here.
It rained dreadfully hard for half an hour while we were at breakfast.
I wanted them to put off the wedding."
"By the bye--I have not wished you joy. Being pretty well aware of what sort of joy
you must both be feeling, I have been in no hurry with my congratulations; but I hope
it all went off tolerably well.
How did you all behave? Who cried most?"
"Ah! poor Miss Taylor! 'Tis a sad business."
"Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please; but I cannot possibly say 'poor
Miss Taylor.'
I have a great regard for you and Emma; but when it comes to the question of dependence
or independence!--At any rate, it must be better to have only one to please than
"Especially when one of those two is such a fanciful, troublesome creature!" said
Emma playfully.
"That is what you have in your head, I know--and what you would certainly say if
my father were not by." "I believe it is very true, my dear,
indeed," said Mr. Woodhouse, with a sigh.
"I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome."
"My dearest papa! You do not think I could mean you, or
suppose Mr. Knightley to mean you.
What a horrible idea! Oh no!
I meant only myself. Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me,
you know--in a joke--it is all a joke.
We always say what we like to one another."
Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma
Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them: and though this was not
particularly agreeable to Emma herself, she
knew it would be so much less so to her father, that she would not have him really
suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by every body.
"Emma knows I never flatter her," said Mr. Knightley, "but I meant no reflection on
any body.
Miss Taylor has been used to have two persons to please; she will now have but
one. The chances are that she must be a gainer."
"Well," said Emma, willing to let it pass-- "you want to hear about the wedding; and I
shall be happy to tell you, for we all behaved charmingly.
Every body was punctual, every body in their best looks: not a tear, and hardly a
long face to be seen.
Oh no; we all felt that we were going to be only half a mile apart, and were sure of
meeting every day." "Dear Emma bears every thing so well," said
her father.
"But, Mr. Knightley, she is really very sorry to lose poor Miss Taylor, and I am
sure she will miss her more than she thinks for."
Emma turned away her head, divided between tears and smiles.
"It is impossible that Emma should not miss such a companion," said Mr. Knightley.
"We should not like her so well as we do, sir, if we could suppose it; but she knows
how much the marriage is to Miss Taylor's advantage; she knows how very acceptable it
must be, at Miss Taylor's time of life, to
be settled in a home of her own, and how important to her to be secure of a
comfortable provision, and therefore cannot allow herself to feel so much pain as
Every friend of Miss Taylor must be glad to have her so happily married."
"And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me," said Emma, "and a very considerable
one--that I made the match myself.
I made the match, you know, four years ago; and to have it take place, and be proved in
the right, when so many people said Mr. Weston would never marry again, may comfort
me for any thing."
Mr. Knightley shook his head at her. Her father fondly replied, "Ah! my dear, I
wish you would not make matches and foretell things, for whatever you say
always comes to pass.
Pray do not make any more matches." "I promise you to make none for myself,
papa; but I must, indeed, for other people. It is the greatest amusement in the world!
And after such success, you know!--Every body said that Mr. Weston would never marry
again. Oh dear, no!
Mr. Weston, who had been a widower so long, and who seemed so perfectly comfortable
without a wife, so constantly occupied either in his business in town or among his
friends here, always acceptable wherever he
went, always cheerful--Mr. Weston need not spend a single evening in the year alone if
he did not like it. Oh no!
Mr. Weston certainly would never marry again.
Some people even talked of a promise to his wife on her deathbed, and others of the son
and the uncle not letting him.
All manner of solemn nonsense was talked on the subject, but I believed none of it.
"Ever since the day--about four years ago-- that Miss Taylor and I met with him in
Broadway Lane, when, because it began to drizzle, he darted away with so much
gallantry, and borrowed two umbrellas for
us from Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject.
I planned the match from that hour; and when such success has blessed me in this
instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off match-making."
"I do not understand what you mean by 'success,'" said Mr. Knightley.
"Success supposes endeavour.
Your time has been properly and delicately spent, if you have been endeavouring for
the last four years to bring about this marriage.
A worthy employment for a young lady's mind!
But if, which I rather imagine, your making the match, as you call it, means only your
planning it, your saying to yourself one idle day, 'I think it would be a very good
thing for Miss Taylor if Mr. Weston were to
marry her,' and saying it again to yourself every now and then afterwards, why do you
talk of success? Where is your merit?
What are you proud of?
You made a lucky guess; and that is all that can be said."
"And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a lucky guess?--I pity you.--I
thought you cleverer--for, depend upon it a lucky guess is never merely luck.
There is always some talent in it.
And as to my poor word 'success,' which you quarrel with, I do not know that I am so
entirely without any claim to it.
You have drawn two pretty pictures; but I think there may be a third--a something
between the do-nothing and the do-all.
If I had not promoted Mr. Weston's visits here, and given many little encouragements,
and smoothed many little matters, it might not have come to any thing after all.
I think you must know Hartfield enough to comprehend that."
"A straightforward, open-hearted man like Weston, and a rational, unaffected woman
like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to manage their own concerns.
You are more likely to have done harm to yourself, than good to them, by
"Emma never thinks of herself, if she can do good to others," rejoined Mr. Woodhouse,
understanding but in part.
"But, my dear, pray do not make any more matches; they are silly things, and break
up one's family circle grievously." "Only one more, papa; only for Mr. Elton.
Poor Mr. Elton!
You like Mr. Elton, papa,--I must look about for a wife for him.
There is nobody in Highbury who deserves him--and he has been here a whole year, and
has fitted up his house so comfortably, that it would be a shame to have him single
any longer--and I thought when he was
joining their hands to-day, he looked so very much as if he would like to have the
same kind office done for him!
I think very well of Mr. Elton, and this is the only way I have of doing him a
"Mr. Elton is a very pretty young man, to be sure, and a very good young man, and I
have a great regard for him.
But if you want to shew him any attention, my dear, ask him to come and dine with us
some day. That will be a much better thing.
I dare say Mr. Knightley will be so kind as to meet him."
"With a great deal of pleasure, sir, at any time," said Mr. Knightley, laughing, "and I
agree with you entirely, that it will be a much better thing.
Invite him to dinner, Emma, and help him to the best of the fish and the chicken, but
leave him to chuse his own wife. Depend upon it, a man of six or seven-and-
twenty can take care of himself."
Mr. Weston was a native of Highbury, and born of a respectable family, which for the
last two or three generations had been rising into gentility and property.
He had received a good education, but, on succeeding early in life to a small
independence, had become indisposed for any of the more homely pursuits in which his
brothers were engaged, and had satisfied an
active, cheerful mind and social temper by entering into the militia of his county,
then embodied.
Captain Weston was a general favourite; and when the chances of his military life had
introduced him to Miss Churchill, of a great Yorkshire family, and Miss Churchill
fell in love with him, nobody was
surprized, except her brother and his wife, who had never seen him, and who were full
of pride and importance, which the connexion would offend.
Miss Churchill, however, being of age, and with the full command of her fortune--
though her fortune bore no proportion to the family-estate--was not to be dissuaded
from the marriage, and it took place, to
the infinite mortification of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, who threw her off with due
decorum. It was an unsuitable connexion, and did not
produce much happiness.
Mrs. Weston ought to have found more in it, for she had a husband whose warm heart and
sweet temper made him think every thing due to her in return for the great goodness of
being in love with him; but though she had one sort of spirit, she had not the best.
She had resolution enough to pursue her own will in spite of her brother, but not
enough to refrain from unreasonable regrets at that brother's unreasonable anger, nor
from missing the luxuries of her former home.
They lived beyond their income, but still it was nothing in comparison of Enscombe:
she did not cease to love her husband, but she wanted at once to be the wife of
Captain Weston, and Miss Churchill of Enscombe.
Captain Weston, who had been considered, especially by the Churchills, as making
such an amazing match, was proved to have much the worst of the bargain; for when his
wife died, after a three years' marriage,
he was rather a poorer man than at first, and with a child to maintain.
From the expense of the child, however, he was soon relieved.
The boy had, with the additional softening claim of a lingering illness of his
mother's, been the means of a sort of reconciliation; and Mr. and Mrs. Churchill,
having no children of their own, nor any
other young creature of equal kindred to care for, offered to take the whole charge
of the little Frank soon after her decease.
Some scruples and some reluctance the widower-father may be supposed to have
felt; but as they were overcome by other considerations, the child was given up to
the care and the wealth of the Churchills,
and he had only his own comfort to seek, and his own situation to improve as he
could. A complete change of life became desirable.
He quitted the militia and engaged in trade, having brothers already established
in a good way in London, which afforded him a favourable opening.
It was a concern which brought just employment enough.
He had still a small house in Highbury, where most of his leisure days were spent;
and between useful occupation and the pleasures of society, the next eighteen or
twenty years of his life passed cheerfully away.
He had, by that time, realised an easy competence--enough to secure the purchase
of a little estate adjoining Highbury, which he had always longed for--enough to
marry a woman as portionless even as Miss
Taylor, and to live according to the wishes of his own friendly and social disposition.
It was now some time since Miss Taylor had begun to influence his schemes; but as it
was not the tyrannic influence of youth on youth, it had not shaken his determination
of never settling till he could purchase
Randalls, and the sale of Randalls was long looked forward to; but he had gone steadily
on, with these objects in view, till they were accomplished.
He had made his fortune, bought his house, and obtained his wife; and was beginning a
new period of existence, with every probability of greater happiness than in
any yet passed through.
He had never been an unhappy man; his own temper had secured him from that, even in
his first marriage; but his second must shew him how delightful a well-judging and
truly amiable woman could be, and must give
him the pleasantest proof of its being a great deal better to choose than to be
chosen, to excite gratitude than to feel it.
He had only himself to please in his choice: his fortune was his own; for as to
Frank, it was more than being tacitly brought up as his uncle's heir, it had
become so avowed an adoption as to have him
assume the name of Churchill on coming of age.
It was most unlikely, therefore, that he should ever want his father's assistance.
His father had no apprehension of it.
The aunt was a capricious woman, and governed her husband entirely; but it was
not in Mr. Weston's nature to imagine that any caprice could be strong enough to
affect one so dear, and, as he believed, so deservedly dear.
He saw his son every year in London, and was proud of him; and his fond report of
him as a very fine young man had made Highbury feel a sort of pride in him too.
He was looked on as sufficiently belonging to the place to make his merits and
prospects a kind of common concern.
Mr. Frank Churchill was one of the boasts of Highbury, and a lively curiosity to see
him prevailed, though the compliment was so little returned that he had never been
there in his life.
His coming to visit his father had been often talked of but never achieved.
Now, upon his father's marriage, it was very generally proposed, as a most proper
attention, that the visit should take place.
There was not a dissentient voice on the subject, either when Mrs. Perry drank tea
with Mrs. and Miss Bates, or when Mrs. and Miss Bates returned the visit.
Now was the time for Mr. Frank Churchill to come among them; and the hope strengthened
when it was understood that he had written to his new mother on the occasion.
For a few days, every morning visit in Highbury included some mention of the
handsome letter Mrs. Weston had received.
"I suppose you have heard of the handsome letter Mr. Frank Churchill has written to
Mrs. Weston? I understand it was a very handsome letter,
Mr. Woodhouse told me of it. Mr. Woodhouse saw the letter, and he says
he never saw such a handsome letter in his life."
It was, indeed, a highly prized letter.
Mrs. Weston had, of course, formed a very favourable idea of the young man; and such
a pleasing attention was an irresistible proof of his great good sense, and a most
welcome addition to every source and every
expression of congratulation which her marriage had already secured.
She felt herself a most fortunate woman; and she had lived long enough to know how
fortunate she might well be thought, where the only regret was for a partial
separation from friends whose friendship
for her had never cooled, and who could ill bear to part with her.
She knew that at times she must be missed; and could not think, without pain, of
Emma's losing a single pleasure, or suffering an hour's ennui, from the want of
her companionableness: but dear Emma was of
no feeble character; she was more equal to her situation than most girls would have
been, and had sense, and energy, and spirits that might be hoped would bear her
well and happily through its little difficulties and privations.
And then there was such comfort in the very easy distance of Randalls from Hartfield,
so convenient for even solitary female walking, and in Mr. Weston's disposition
and circumstances, which would make the
approaching season no hindrance to their spending half the evenings in the week
Her situation was altogether the subject of hours of gratitude to Mrs. Weston, and of
moments only of regret; and her satisfaction--her more than satisfaction--
her cheerful enjoyment, was so just and so
apparent, that Emma, well as she knew her father, was sometimes taken by surprize at
his being still able to pity 'poor Miss Taylor,' when they left her at Randalls in
the centre of every domestic comfort, or
saw her go away in the evening attended by her pleasant husband to a carriage of her
But never did she go without Mr. Woodhouse's giving a gentle sigh, and
saying, "Ah, poor Miss Taylor! She would be very glad to stay."
There was no recovering Miss Taylor--nor much likelihood of ceasing to pity her; but
a few weeks brought some alleviation to Mr. Woodhouse.
The compliments of his neighbours were over; he was no longer teased by being
wished joy of so sorrowful an event; and the wedding-cake, which had been a great
distress to him, was all eat up.
His own stomach could bear nothing rich, and he could never believe other people to
be different from himself.
What was unwholesome to him he regarded as unfit for any body; and he had, therefore,
earnestly tried to dissuade them from having any wedding-cake at all, and when
that proved vain, as earnestly tried to prevent any body's eating it.
He had been at the pains of consulting Mr. Perry, the apothecary, on the subject.
Mr. Perry was an intelligent, gentlemanlike man, whose frequent visits were one of the
comforts of Mr. Woodhouse's life; and upon being applied to, he could not but
acknowledge (though it seemed rather
against the bias of inclination) that wedding-cake might certainly disagree with
many--perhaps with most people, unless taken moderately.
With such an opinion, in confirmation of his own, Mr. Woodhouse hoped to influence
every visitor of the newly married pair; but still the cake was eaten; and there was
no rest for his benevolent nerves till it was all gone.
There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little Perrys being seen with a
slice of Mrs. Weston's wedding-cake in their hands: but Mr. Woodhouse would never
believe it.
Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way.
He liked very much to have his friends come and see him; and from various united
causes, from his long residence at Hartfield, and his good nature, from his
fortune, his house, and his daughter, he
could command the visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked.
He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle; his horror of
late hours, and large dinner-parties, made him unfit for any acquaintance but such as
would visit him on his own terms.
Fortunately for him, Highbury, including Randalls in the same parish, and Donwell
Abbey in the parish adjoining, the seat of Mr. Knightley, comprehended many such.
Not unfrequently, through Emma's persuasion, he had some of the chosen and
the best to dine with him: but evening parties were what he preferred; and, unless
he fancied himself at any time unequal to
company, there was scarcely an evening in the week in which Emma could not make up a
card-table for him.
Real, long-standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. Knightley; and by Mr.
Elton, a young man living alone without liking it, the privilege of exchanging any
vacant evening of his own blank solitude
for the elegancies and society of Mr. Woodhouse's drawing-room, and the smiles of
his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being thrown away.
After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able of whom were Mrs. and
Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies almost always at the service of an
invitation from Hartfield, and who were
fetched and carried home so often, that Mr. Woodhouse thought it no hardship for either
James or the horses. Had it taken place only once a year, it
would have been a grievance.
Mrs. Bates, the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was a very old lady, almost past
every thing but tea and quadrille.
She lived with her single daughter in a very small way, and was considered with all
the regard and respect which a harmless old lady, under such untoward circumstances,
can excite.
Her daughter enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity for a woman neither young,
handsome, rich, nor married.
Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of
the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement
to herself, or frighten those who might hate her into outward respect.
She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness.
Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the
care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as
And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will.
It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders.
She loved every body, was interested in every body's happiness, quicksighted to
every body's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with
blessings in such an excellent mother, and
so many good neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing.
The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit,
were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to herself.
She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of
trivial communications and harmless gossip.
Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School-- not of a seminary, or an establishment, or
any thing which professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine
liberal acquirements with elegant morality,
upon new principles and new systems--and where young ladies for enormous pay might
be screwed out of health and into vanity-- but a real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-
school, where a reasonable quantity of
accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where girls might be sent to be
out of the way, and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger
of coming back prodigies.
Mrs. Goddard's school was in high repute-- and very deservedly; for Highbury was
reckoned a particularly healthy spot: she had an ample house and garden, gave the
children plenty of wholesome food, let them
run about a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with her
own hands.
It was no wonder that a train of twenty young couple now walked after her to
She was a plain, motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now
thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly
owed much to Mr. Woodhouse's kindness, felt
his particular claim on her to leave her neat parlour, hung round with fancy-work,
whenever she could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.
These were the ladies whom Emma found herself very frequently able to collect;
and happy was she, for her father's sake, in the power; though, as far as she was
herself concerned, it was no remedy for the absence of Mrs. Weston.
She was delighted to see her father look comfortable, and very much pleased with
herself for contriving things so well; but the quiet prosings of three such women made
her feel that every evening so spent was
indeed one of the long evenings she had fearfully anticipated.
As she sat one morning, looking forward to exactly such a close of the present day, a
note was brought from Mrs. Goddard, requesting, in most respectful terms, to be
allowed to bring Miss Smith with her; a
most welcome request: for Miss Smith was a girl of seventeen, whom Emma knew very well
by sight, and had long felt an interest in, on account of her beauty.
A very gracious invitation was returned, and the evening no longer dreaded by the
fair mistress of the mansion. Harriet Smith was the natural daughter of
Somebody had placed her, several years back, at Mrs. Goddard's school, and
somebody had lately raised her from the condition of scholar to that of parlour-
This was all that was generally known of her history.
She had no visible friends but what had been acquired at Highbury, and was now just
returned from a long visit in the country to some young ladies who had been at school
there with her.
She was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be of a sort which Emma
particularly admired.
She was short, plump, and fair, with a fine bloom, blue eyes, light hair, regular
features, and a look of great sweetness, and, before the end of the evening, Emma
was as much pleased with her manners as her
person, and quite determined to continue the acquaintance.
She was not struck by any thing remarkably clever in Miss Smith's conversation, but
she found her altogether very engaging--not inconveniently shy, not unwilling to talk--
and yet so far from pushing, shewing so
proper and becoming a deference, seeming so pleasantly grateful for being admitted to
Hartfield, and so artlessly impressed by the appearance of every thing in so
superior a style to what she had been used
to, that she must have good sense, and deserve encouragement.
Encouragement should be given.
Those soft blue eyes, and all those natural graces, should not be wasted on the
inferior society of Highbury and its connexions.
The acquaintance she had already formed were unworthy of her.
The friends from whom she had just parted, though very good sort of people, must be
doing her harm.
They were a family of the name of Martin, whom Emma well knew by character, as
renting a large farm of Mr. Knightley, and residing in the parish of Donwell--very
creditably, she believed--she knew Mr.
Knightley thought highly of them--but they must be coarse and unpolished, and very
unfit to be the intimates of a girl who wanted only a little more knowledge and
elegance to be quite perfect.
She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad
acquaintance, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and
her manners.
It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her
own situation in life, her leisure, and powers.
She was so busy in admiring those soft blue eyes, in talking and listening, and forming
all these schemes in the in-betweens, that the evening flew away at a very unusual
rate; and the supper-table, which always
closed such parties, and for which she had been used to sit and watch the due time,
was all set out and ready, and moved forwards to the fire, before she was aware.
With an alacrity beyond the common impulse of a spirit which yet was never indifferent
to the credit of doing every thing well and attentively, with the real good-will of a
mind delighted with its own ideas, did she
then do all the honours of the meal, and help and recommend the minced chicken and
scalloped oysters, with an urgency which she knew would be acceptable to the early
hours and civil scruples of their guests.
Upon such occasions poor Mr. Woodhouses feelings were in sad warfare.
He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his youth, but his
conviction of suppers being very unwholesome made him rather sorry to see
any thing put on it; and while his
hospitality would have welcomed his visitors to every thing, his care for their
health made him grieve that they would eat.
Such another small basin of thin gruel as his own was all that he could, with
thorough self-approbation, recommend; though he might constrain himself, while
the ladies were comfortably clearing the nicer things, to say:
"Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs.
An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome.
Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body.
I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else; but you need not be afraid, they
are very small, you see--one of our small eggs will not hurt you.
Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart--a very little bit.
Ours are all apple-tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome
preserves here.
I do not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a
glass of wine? A small half-glass, put into a tumbler of
I do not think it could disagree with you."
Emma allowed her father to talk--but supplied her visitors in a much more
satisfactory style, and on the present evening had particular pleasure in sending
them away happy.
The happiness of Miss Smith was quite equal to her intentions.
Miss Woodhouse was so great a personage in Highbury, that the prospect of the
introduction had given as much panic as pleasure; but the humble, grateful little
girl went off with highly gratified
feelings, delighted with the affability with which Miss Woodhouse had treated her
all the evening, and actually shaken hands with her at last!
Harriet Smith's intimacy at Hartfield was soon a settled thing.
Quick and decided in her ways, Emma lost no time in inviting, encouraging, and telling
her to come very often; and as their acquaintance increased, so did their
satisfaction in each other.
As a walking companion, Emma had very early foreseen how useful she might find her.
In that respect Mrs. Weston's loss had been important.
Her father never went beyond the shrubbery, where two divisions of the ground sufficed
him for his long walk, or his short, as the year varied; and since Mrs. Weston's
marriage her exercise had been too much confined.
She had ventured once alone to Randalls, but it was not pleasant; and a Harriet
Smith, therefore, one whom she could summon at any time to a walk, would be a valuable
addition to her privileges.
But in every respect, as she saw more of her, she approved her, and was confirmed in
all her kind designs.
Harriet certainly was not clever, but she had a sweet, docile, grateful disposition,
was totally free from conceit, and only desiring to be guided by any one she looked
up to.
Her early attachment to herself was very amiable; and her inclination for good
company, and power of appreciating what was elegant and clever, shewed that there was
no want of taste, though strength of understanding must not be expected.
Altogether she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith's being exactly the young
friend she wanted--exactly the something which her home required.
Such a friend as Mrs. Weston was out of the question.
Two such could never be granted. Two such she did not want.
It was quite a different sort of thing, a sentiment distinct and independent.
Mrs. Weston was the object of a regard which had its basis in gratitude and
Harriet would be loved as one to whom she could be useful.
For Mrs. Weston there was nothing to be done; for Harriet every thing.
Her first attempts at usefulness were in an endeavour to find out who were the parents,
but Harriet could not tell.
She was ready to tell every thing in her power, but on this subject questions were
Emma was obliged to fancy what she liked-- but she could never believe that in the
same situation she should not have discovered the truth.
Harriet had no penetration.
She had been satisfied to hear and believe just what Mrs. Goddard chose to tell her;
and looked no farther.
Mrs. Goddard, and the teachers, and the girls and the affairs of the school in
general, formed naturally a great part of the conversation--and but for her
acquaintance with the Martins of Abbey-Mill Farm, it must have been the whole.
But the Martins occupied her thoughts a good deal; she had spent two very happy
months with them, and now loved to talk of the pleasures of her visit, and describe
the many comforts and wonders of the place.
Emma encouraged her talkativeness--amused by such a picture of another set of beings,
and enjoying the youthful simplicity which could speak with so much exultation of Mrs.
Martin's having "two parlours, two very
good parlours, indeed; one of them quite as large as Mrs. Goddard's drawing-room; and
of her having an upper maid who had lived five-and-twenty years with her; and of
their having eight cows, two of them
Alderneys, and one a little Welch cow, a very pretty little Welch cow indeed; and of
Mrs. Martin's saying as she was so fond of it, it should be called her cow; and of
their having a very handsome summer-house
in their garden, where some day next year they were all to drink tea:--a very
handsome summer-house, large enough to hold a dozen people."
For some time she was amused, without thinking beyond the immediate cause; but as
she came to understand the family better, other feelings arose.
She had taken up a wrong idea, fancying it was a mother and daughter, a son and son's
wife, who all lived together; but when it appeared that the Mr. Martin, who bore a
part in the narrative, and was always
mentioned with approbation for his great good-nature in doing something or other,
was a single man; that there was no young Mrs. Martin, no wife in the case; she did
suspect danger to her poor little friend
from all this hospitality and kindness, and that, if she were not taken care of, she
might be required to sink herself forever.
With this inspiriting notion, her questions increased in number and meaning; and she
particularly led Harriet to talk more of Mr. Martin, and there was evidently no
dislike to it.
Harriet was very ready to speak of the share he had had in their moonlight walks
and merry evening games; and dwelt a good deal upon his being so very good-humoured
and obliging.
He had gone three miles round one day in order to bring her some walnuts, because
she had said how fond she was of them, and in every thing else he was so very
He had his shepherd's son into the parlour one night on purpose to sing to her.
She was very fond of singing. He could sing a little himself.
She believed he was very clever, and understood every thing.
He had a very fine flock, and, while she was with them, he had been bid more for his
wool than any body in the country.
She believed every body spoke well of him. His mother and sisters were very fond of
Mrs. Martin had told her one day (and there was a blush as she said it,) that it was
impossible for any body to be a better son, and therefore she was sure, whenever he
married, he would make a good husband.
Not that she wanted him to marry. She was in no hurry at all.
"Well done, Mrs. Martin!" thought Emma. "You know what you are about."
"And when she had come away, Mrs. Martin was so very kind as to send Mrs. Goddard a
beautiful goose--the finest goose Mrs. Goddard had ever seen.
Mrs. Goddard had dressed it on a Sunday, and asked all the three teachers, Miss
Nash, and Miss Prince, and Miss Richardson, to sup with her."
"Mr. Martin, I suppose, is not a man of information beyond the line of his own
business? He does not read?"
"Oh yes!--that is, no--I do not know--but I believe he has read a good deal--but not
what you would think any thing of.
He reads the Agricultural Reports, and some other books that lay in one of the window
seats--but he reads all them to himself.
But sometimes of an evening, before we went to cards, he would read something aloud out
of the Elegant Extracts, very entertaining. And I know he has read the Vicar of
He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor The Children of the Abbey.
He had never heard of such books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get
them now as soon as ever he can."
The next question was-- "What sort of looking man is Mr. Martin?"
"Oh! not handsome--not at all handsome. I thought him very plain at first, but I do
not think him so plain now.
One does not, you know, after a time. But did you never see him?
He is in Highbury every now and then, and he is sure to ride through every week in
his way to Kingston.
He has passed you very often." "That may be, and I may have seen him fifty
times, but without having any idea of his name.
A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to
raise my curiosity.
The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing
to do.
A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might interest me; I might hope
to be useful to their families in some way or other.
But a farmer can need none of my help, and is, therefore, in one sense, as much above
my notice as in every other he is below it."
"To be sure.
Oh yes! It is not likely you should ever have
observed him; but he knows you very well indeed--I mean by sight."
"I have no doubt of his being a very respectable young man.
I know, indeed, that he is so, and, as such, wish him well.
What do you imagine his age to be?"
"He was four-and-twenty the 8th of last June, and my birthday is the 23rd just a
fortnight and a day's difference--which is very odd."
"Only four-and-twenty.
That is too young to settle. His mother is perfectly right not to be in
a hurry.
They seem very comfortable as they are, and if she were to take any pains to marry him,
she would probably repent it.
Six years hence, if he could meet with a good sort of young woman in the same rank
as his own, with a little money, it might be very desirable."
"Six years hence!
Dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be thirty years old!"
"Well, and that is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are not born to an
Mr. Martin, I imagine, has his fortune entirely to make--cannot be at all
beforehand with the world.
Whatever money he might come into when his father died, whatever his share of the
family property, it is, I dare say, all afloat, all employed in his stock, and so
forth; and though, with diligence and good
luck, he may be rich in time, it is next to impossible that he should have realised any
thing yet." "To be sure, so it is.
But they live very comfortably.
They have no indoors man, else they do not want for any thing; and Mrs. Martin talks
of taking a boy another year."
"I wish you may not get into a scrape, Harriet, whenever he does marry;--I mean,
as to being acquainted with his wife--for though his sisters, from a superior
education, are not to be altogether
objected to, it does not follow that he might marry any body at all fit for you to
The misfortune of your birth ought to make you particularly careful as to your
There can be no doubt of your being a gentleman's daughter, and you must support
your claim to that station by every thing within your own power, or there will be
plenty of people who would take pleasure in degrading you."
"Yes, to be sure, I suppose there are.
But while I visit at Hartfield, and you are so kind to me, Miss Woodhouse, I am not
afraid of what any body can do."
"You understand the force of influence pretty well, Harriet; but I would have you
so firmly established in good society, as to be independent even of Hartfield and
Miss Woodhouse.
I want to see you permanently well connected, and to that end it will be
advisable to have as few odd acquaintance as may be; and, therefore, I say that if
you should still be in this country when
Mr. Martin marries, I wish you may not be drawn in by your intimacy with the sisters,
to be acquainted with the wife, who will probably be some mere farmer's daughter,
without education."
"To be sure. Yes. Not that I think Mr. Martin would ever marry any body but what
had had some education--and been very well brought up.
However, I do not mean to set up my opinion against yours--and I am sure I shall not
wish for the acquaintance of his wife.
I shall always have a great regard for the Miss Martins, especially Elizabeth, and
should be very sorry to give them up, for they are quite as well educated as me.
But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar woman, certainly I had better not visit
her, if I can help it."
Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, and saw no alarming
symptoms of love.
The young man had been the first admirer, but she trusted there was no other hold,
and that there would be no serious difficulty, on Harriet's side, to oppose
any friendly arrangement of her own.
They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the Donwell road.
He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at her, looked with most
unfeigned satisfaction at her companion.
Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few
yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye sufficiently
acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin.
His appearance was very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, but his person
had no other advantage; and when he came to be contrasted with gentlemen, she thought
he must lose all the ground he had gained in Harriet's inclination.
Harriet was not insensible of manner; she had voluntarily noticed her father's
gentleness with admiration as well as wonder.
Mr. Martin looked as if he did not know what manner was.
They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Woodhouse must not be kept waiting;
and Harriet then came running to her with a smiling face, and in a flutter of spirits,
which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to compose.
"Only think of our happening to meet him!-- How very odd!
It was quite a chance, he said, that he had not gone round by Randalls.
He did not think we ever walked this road. He thought we walked towards Randalls most
He has not been able to get the Romance of the Forest yet.
He was so busy the last time he was at Kingston that he quite forgot it, but he
goes again to-morrow.
So very odd we should happen to meet! Well, Miss Woodhouse, is he like what you
expected? What do you think of him?
Do you think him so very plain?"
"He is very plain, undoubtedly--remarkably plain:--but that is nothing compared with
his entire want of gentility.
I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he
could be so very clownish, so totally without air.
I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two nearer gentility."
"To be sure," said Harriet, in a mortified voice, "he is not so genteel as real
"I think, Harriet, since your acquaintance with us, you have been repeatedly in the
company of some such very real gentlemen, that you must yourself be struck with the
difference in Mr. Martin.
At Hartfield, you have had very good specimens of well educated, well bred men.
I should be surprized if, after seeing them, you could be in company with Mr.
Martin again without perceiving him to be a very inferior creature--and rather
wondering at yourself for having ever thought him at all agreeable before.
Do not you begin to feel that now? Were not you struck?
I am sure you must have been struck by his awkward look and abrupt manner, and the
uncouthness of a voice which I heard to be wholly unmodulated as I stood here."
"Certainly, he is not like Mr. Knightley.
He has not such a fine air and way of walking as Mr. Knightley.
I see the difference plain enough. But Mr. Knightley is so very fine a man!"
"Mr. Knightley's air is so remarkably good that it is not fair to compare Mr. Martin
with him.
You might not see one in a hundred with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr.
Knightley. But he is not the only gentleman you have
been lately used to.
What say you to Mr. Weston and Mr. Elton? Compare Mr. Martin with either of them.
Compare their manner of carrying themselves; of walking; of speaking; of
being silent.
You must see the difference." "Oh yes!--there is a great difference.
But Mr. Weston is almost an old man. Mr. Weston must be between forty and
"Which makes his good manners the more valuable.
The older a person grows, Harriet, the more important it is that their manners should
not be bad; the more glaring and disgusting any loudness, or coarseness, or awkwardness
What is passable in youth is detestable in later age.
Mr. Martin is now awkward and abrupt; what will he be at Mr. Weston's time of life?"
"There is no saying, indeed," replied Harriet rather solemnly.
"But there may be pretty good guessing.
He will be a completely gross, vulgar farmer, totally inattentive to appearances,
and thinking of nothing but profit and loss."
"Will he, indeed?
That will be very bad." "How much his business engrosses him
already is very plain from the circumstance of his forgetting to inquire for the book
you recommended.
He was a great deal too full of the market to think of any thing else--which is just
as it should be, for a thriving man. What has he to do with books?
And I have no doubt that he will thrive, and be a very rich man in time--and his
being illiterate and coarse need not disturb us."
"I wonder he did not remember the book"-- was all Harriet's answer, and spoken with a
degree of grave displeasure which Emma thought might be safely left to itself.
She, therefore, said no more for some time.
Her next beginning was, "In one respect, perhaps, Mr. Elton's
manners are superior to Mr. Knightley's or Mr. Weston's.
They have more gentleness.
They might be more safely held up as a pattern.
There is an openness, a quickness, almost a bluntness in Mr. Weston, which every body
likes in him, because there is so much good-humour with it--but that would not do
to be copied.
Neither would Mr. Knightley's downright, decided, commanding sort of manner, though
it suits him very well; his figure, and look, and situation in life seem to allow
it; but if any young man were to set about copying him, he would not be sufferable.
On the contrary, I think a young man might be very safely recommended to take Mr.
Elton as a model.
Mr. Elton is good-humoured, cheerful, obliging, and gentle.
He seems to me to be grown particularly gentle of late.
I do not know whether he has any design of ingratiating himself with either of us,
Harriet, by additional softness, but it strikes me that his manners are softer than
they used to be.
If he means any thing, it must be to please you.
Did not I tell you what he said of you the other day?"
She then repeated some warm personal praise which she had drawn from Mr. Elton, and now
did full justice to; and Harriet blushed and smiled, and said she had always thought
Mr. Elton very agreeable.
Mr. Elton was the very person fixed on by Emma for driving the young farmer out of
Harriet's head.
She thought it would be an excellent match; and only too palpably desirable, natural,
and probable, for her to have much merit in planning it.
She feared it was what every body else must think of and predict.
It was not likely, however, that any body should have equalled her in the date of the
plan, as it had entered her brain during the very first evening of Harriet's coming
to Hartfield.
The longer she considered it, the greater was her sense of its expediency.
Mr. Elton's situation was most suitable, quite the gentleman himself, and without
low connexions; at the same time, not of any family that could fairly object to the
doubtful birth of Harriet.
He had a comfortable home for her, and Emma imagined a very sufficient income; for
though the vicarage of Highbury was not large, he was known to have some
independent property; and she thought very
highly of him as a good-humoured, well- meaning, respectable young man, without any
deficiency of useful understanding or knowledge of the world.
She had already satisfied herself that he thought Harriet a beautiful girl, which she
trusted, with such frequent meetings at Hartfield, was foundation enough on his
side; and on Harriet's there could be
little doubt that the idea of being preferred by him would have all the usual
weight and efficacy.
And he was really a very pleasing young man, a young man whom any woman not
fastidious might like.
He was reckoned very handsome; his person much admired in general, though not by her,
there being a want of elegance of feature which she could not dispense with:--but the
girl who could be gratified by a Robert
Martin's riding about the country to get walnuts for her might very well be
conquered by Mr. Elton's admiration.
"I do not know what your opinion may be, Mrs. Weston," said Mr. Knightley, "of this
great intimacy between Emma and Harriet Smith, but I think it a bad thing."
"A bad thing!
Do you really think it a bad thing?--why so?"
"I think they will neither of them do the other any good."
"You surprize me!
Emma must do Harriet good: and by supplying her with a new object of interest, Harriet
may be said to do Emma good. I have been seeing their intimacy with the
greatest pleasure.
How very differently we feel!--Not think they will do each other any good!
This will certainly be the beginning of one of our quarrels about Emma, Mr. Knightley."
"Perhaps you think I am come on purpose to quarrel with you, knowing Weston to be out,
and that you must still fight your own battle."
"Mr. Weston would undoubtedly support me, if he were here, for he thinks exactly as I
do on the subject.
We were speaking of it only yesterday, and agreeing how fortunate it was for Emma,
that there should be such a girl in Highbury for her to associate with.
Mr. Knightley, I shall not allow you to be a fair judge in this case.
You are so much used to live alone, that you do not know the value of a companion;
and, perhaps no man can be a good judge of the comfort a woman feels in the society of
one of her own sex, after being used to it all her life.
I can imagine your objection to Harriet Smith.
She is not the superior young woman which Emma's friend ought to be.
But on the other hand, as Emma wants to see her better informed, it will be an
inducement to her to read more herself.
They will read together. She means it, I know."
"Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old.
I have seen a great many lists of her drawing-up at various times of books that
she meant to read regularly through--and very good lists they were--very well
chosen, and very neatly arranged--sometimes
alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule.
The list she drew up when only fourteen--I remember thinking it did her judgment so
much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very
good list now.
But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma.
She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a
subjection of the fancy to the understanding.
Where Miss Taylor failed to stimulate, I may safely affirm that Harriet Smith will
do nothing.--You never could persuade her to read half so much as you wished.--You
know you could not."
"I dare say," replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, "that I thought so then;--but since we
have parted, I can never remember Emma's omitting to do any thing I wished."
"There is hardly any desiring to refresh such a memory as that,"--said Mr.
Knightley, feelingly; and for a moment or two he had done.
"But I," he soon added, "who have had no such charm thrown over my senses, must
still see, hear, and remember. Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of
her family.
At ten years old, she had the misfortune of being able to answer questions which
puzzled her sister at seventeen. She was always quick and assured: Isabella
slow and diffident.
And ever since she was twelve, Emma has been mistress of the house and of you all.
In her mother she lost the only person able to cope with her.
She inherits her mother's talents, and must have been under subjection to her."
"I should have been sorry, Mr. Knightley, to be dependent on your recommendation,
had I quitted Mr. Woodhouse's family and wanted another situation; I do not think
you would have spoken a good word for me to any body.
I am sure you always thought me unfit for the office I held."
"Yes," said he, smiling.
"You are better placed here; very fit for a wife, but not at all for a governess.
But you were preparing yourself to be an excellent wife all the time you were at
You might not give Emma such a complete education as your powers would seem to
promise; but you were receiving a very good education from her, on the very material
matrimonial point of submitting your own
will, and doing as you were bid; and if Weston had asked me to recommend him a
wife, I should certainly have named Miss Taylor."
"Thank you.
There will be very little merit in making a good wife to such a man as Mr. Weston."
"Why, to own the truth, I am afraid you are rather thrown away, and that with every
disposition to bear, there will be nothing to be borne.
We will not despair, however.
Weston may grow cross from the wantonness of comfort, or his son may plague him."
"I hope not that.--It is not likely. No, Mr. Knightley, do not foretell vexation
from that quarter."
"Not I, indeed. I only name possibilities.
I do not pretend to Emma's genius for foretelling and guessing.
I hope, with all my heart, the young man may be a Weston in merit, and a Churchill
in fortune.--But Harriet Smith--I have not half done about Harriet Smith.
I think her the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have.
She knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing every thing.
She is a flatterer in all her ways; and so much the worse, because undesigned.
Her ignorance is hourly flattery.
How can Emma imagine she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting
such a delightful inferiority? And as for Harriet, I will venture to say
that she cannot gain by the acquaintance.
Hartfield will only put her out of conceit with all the other places she belongs to.
She will grow just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth
and circumstances have placed her home.
I am much mistaken if Emma's doctrines give any strength of mind, or tend at all to
make a girl adapt herself rationally to the varieties of her situation in life.--They
only give a little polish."
"I either depend more upon Emma's good sense than you do, or am more anxious for
her present comfort; for I cannot lament the acquaintance.
How well she looked last night!"
"Oh! you would rather talk of her person than her mind, would you?
Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma's being pretty."
"Pretty! say beautiful rather.
Can you imagine any thing nearer perfect beauty than Emma altogether--face and
"I do not know what I could imagine, but I confess that I have seldom seen a face or
figure more pleasing to me than hers. But I am a partial old friend."
"Such an eye!--the true hazle eye--and so brilliant! regular features, open
countenance, with a complexion! oh! what a bloom of full health, and such a pretty
height and size; such a firm and upright figure!
There is health, not merely in her bloom, but in her air, her head, her glance.
One hears sometimes of a child being 'the picture of health;' now, Emma always gives
me the idea of being the complete picture of grown-up health.
She is loveliness itself.
Mr. Knightley, is not she?" "I have not a fault to find with her
person," he replied. "I think her all you describe.
I love to look at her; and I will add this praise, that I do not think her personally
Considering how very handsome she is, she appears to be little occupied with it; her
vanity lies another way.
Mrs. Weston, I am not to be talked out of my dislike of Harriet Smith, or my dread of
its doing them both harm."
"And I, Mr. Knightley, am equally stout in my confidence of its not doing them any
harm. With all dear Emma's little faults, she is
an excellent creature.
Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend?
No, no; she has qualities which may be trusted; she will never lead any one really
wrong; she will make no lasting blunder; where Emma errs once, she is in the right a
hundred times."
"Very well; I will not plague you any more. Emma shall be an angel, and I will keep my
spleen to myself till Christmas brings John and Isabella.
John loves Emma with a reasonable and therefore not a blind affection, and
Isabella always thinks as he does; except when he is not quite frightened enough
about the children.
I am sure of having their opinions with me."
"I know that you all love her really too well to be unjust or unkind; but excuse me,
Mr. Knightley, if I take the liberty (I consider myself, you know, as having
somewhat of the privilege of speech that
Emma's mother might have had) the liberty of hinting that I do not think any possible
good can arise from Harriet Smith's intimacy being made a matter of much
discussion among you.
Pray excuse me; but supposing any little inconvenience may be apprehended from the
intimacy, it cannot be expected that Emma, accountable to nobody but her father, who
perfectly approves the acquaintance, should
put an end to it, so long as it is a source of pleasure to herself.
It has been so many years my province to give advice, that you cannot be surprized,
Mr. Knightley, at this little remains of office."
"Not at all," cried he; "I am much obliged to you for it.
It is very good advice, and it shall have a better fate than your advice has often
found; for it shall be attended to."
"Mrs. John Knightley is easily alarmed, and might be made unhappy about her sister."
"Be satisfied," said he, "I will not raise any outcry.
I will keep my ill-humour to myself.
I have a very sincere interest in Emma. Isabella does not seem more my sister; has
never excited a greater interest; perhaps hardly so great.
There is an anxiety, a curiosity in what one feels for Emma.
I wonder what will become of her!" "So do I," said Mrs. Weston gently, "very
"She always declares she will never marry, which, of course, means just nothing at
all. But I have no idea that she has yet ever
seen a man she cared for.
It would not be a bad thing for her to be very much in love with a proper object.
I should like to see Emma in love, and in some doubt of a return; it would do her
But there is nobody hereabouts to attach her; and she goes so seldom from home."
"There does, indeed, seem as little to tempt her to break her resolution at
present," said Mrs. Weston, "as can well be; and while she is so happy at Hartfield,
I cannot wish her to be forming any
attachment which would be creating such difficulties on poor Mr. Woodhouse's
I do not recommend matrimony at present to Emma, though I mean no slight to the state,
I assure you."
Part of her meaning was to conceal some favourite thoughts of her own and Mr.
Weston's on the subject, as much as possible.
There were wishes at Randalls respecting Emma's destiny, but it was not desirable to
have them suspected; and the quiet transition which Mr. Knightley soon
afterwards made to "What does Weston think
of the weather; shall we have rain?" convinced her that he had nothing more to
say or surmise about Hartfield.
Emma could not feel a doubt of having given Harriet's fancy a proper direction and
raised the gratitude of her young vanity to a very good purpose, for she found her
decidedly more sensible than before of Mr.
Elton's being a remarkably handsome man, with most agreeable manners; and as she had
no hesitation in following up the assurance of his admiration by agreeable hints, she
was soon pretty confident of creating as
much liking on Harriet's side, as there could be any occasion for.
She was quite convinced of Mr. Elton's being in the fairest way of falling in
love, if not in love already.
She had no scruple with regard to him. He talked of Harriet, and praised her so
warmly, that she could not suppose any thing wanting which a little time would not
His perception of the striking improvement of Harriet's manner, since her introduction
at Hartfield, was not one of the least agreeable proofs of his growing attachment.
"You have given Miss Smith all that she required," said he; "you have made her
graceful and easy.
She was a beautiful creature when she came to you, but, in my opinion, the attractions
you have added are infinitely superior to what she received from nature."
"I am glad you think I have been useful to her; but Harriet only wanted drawing out,
and receiving a few, very few hints. She had all the natural grace of sweetness
of temper and artlessness in herself.
I have done very little." "If it were admissible to contradict a
lady," said the gallant Mr. Elton--
"I have perhaps given her a little more decision of character, have taught her to
think on points which had not fallen in her way before."
"Exactly so; that is what principally strikes me.
So much superadded decision of character! Skilful has been the hand!"
"Great has been the pleasure, I am sure.
I never met with a disposition more truly amiable."
"I have no doubt of it."
And it was spoken with a sort of sighing animation, which had a vast deal of the
She was not less pleased another day with the manner in which he seconded a sudden
wish of hers, to have Harriet's picture.
"Did you ever have your likeness taken, Harriet?" said she: "did you ever sit for
your picture?"
Harriet was on the point of leaving the room, and only stopt to say, with a very
interesting naivete, "Oh! dear, no, never."
No sooner was she out of sight, than Emma exclaimed,
"What an exquisite possession a good picture of her would be!
I would give any money for it.
I almost long to attempt her likeness myself.
You do not know it I dare say, but two or three years ago I had a great passion for
taking likenesses, and attempted several of my friends, and was thought to have a
tolerable eye in general.
But from one cause or another, I gave it up in disgust.
But really, I could almost venture, if Harriet would sit to me.
It would be such a delight to have her picture!"
"Let me entreat you," cried Mr. Elton; "it would indeed be a delight!
Let me entreat you, Miss Woodhouse, to exercise so charming a talent in favour of
your friend. I know what your drawings are.
How could you suppose me ignorant?
Is not this room rich in specimens of your landscapes and flowers; and has not Mrs.
Weston some inimitable figure-pieces in her drawing-room, at Randalls?"
Yes, good man!--thought Emma--but what has all that to do with taking likenesses?
You know nothing of drawing. Don't pretend to be in raptures about mine.
Keep your raptures for Harriet's face.
"Well, if you give me such kind encouragement, Mr. Elton, I believe I shall
try what I can do.
Harriet's features are very delicate, which makes a likeness difficult; and yet there
is a peculiarity in the shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth which one
ought to catch."
"Exactly so--The shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth--I have not a doubt
of your success. Pray, pray attempt it.
As you will do it, it will indeed, to use your own words, be an exquisite
possession." "But I am afraid, Mr. Elton, Harriet will
not like to sit.
She thinks so little of her own beauty. Did not you observe her manner of answering
me? How completely it meant, 'why should my
picture be drawn?'"
"Oh! yes, I observed it, I assure you. It was not lost on me.
But still I cannot imagine she would not be persuaded."
Harriet was soon back again, and the proposal almost immediately made; and she
had no scruples which could stand many minutes against the earnest pressing of
both the others.
Emma wished to go to work directly, and therefore produced the portfolio containing
her various attempts at portraits, for not one of them had ever been finished, that
they might decide together on the best size for Harriet.
Her many beginnings were displayed.
Miniatures, half-lengths, whole-lengths, pencil, crayon, and water-colours had been
all tried in turn.
She had always wanted to do every thing, and had made more progress both in drawing
and music than many might have done with so little labour as she would ever submit to.
She played and sang;--and drew in almost every style; but steadiness had always been
wanting; and in nothing had she approached the degree of excellence which she would
have been glad to command, and ought not to have failed of.
She was not much deceived as to her own skill either as an artist or a musician,
but she was not unwilling to have others deceived, or sorry to know her reputation
for accomplishment often higher than it deserved.
There was merit in every drawing--in the least finished, perhaps the most; her style
was spirited; but had there been much less, or had there been ten times more, the
delight and admiration of her two companions would have been the same.
They were both in ecstasies. A likeness pleases every body; and Miss
Woodhouse's performances must be capital.
"No great variety of faces for you," said Emma.
"I had only my own family to study from.
There is my father--another of my father-- but the idea of sitting for his picture
made him so nervous, that I could only take him by stealth; neither of them very like
Mrs. Weston again, and again, and again, you see.
Dear Mrs. Weston! always my kindest friend on every occasion.
She would sit whenever I asked her.
There is my sister; and really quite her own little elegant figure!--and the face
not unlike.
I should have made a good likeness of her, if she would have sat longer, but she was
in such a hurry to have me draw her four children that she would not be quiet.
Then, here come all my attempts at three of those four children;--there they are, Henry
and John and Bella, from one end of the sheet to the other, and any one of them
might do for any one of the rest.
She was so eager to have them drawn that I could not refuse; but there is no making
children of three or four years old stand still you know; nor can it be very easy to
take any likeness of them, beyond the air
and complexion, unless they are coarser featured than any of mama's children ever
were. Here is my sketch of the fourth, who was a
I took him as he was sleeping on the sofa, and it is as strong a likeness of his
cockade as you would wish to see. He had nestled down his head most
That's very like. I am rather proud of little George.
The corner of the sofa is very good.
Then here is my last,"--unclosing a pretty sketch of a gentleman in small size, whole-
length--"my last and my best--my brother, Mr. John Knightley.--This did not want much
of being finished, when I put it away in a
pet, and vowed I would never take another likeness.
I could not help being provoked; for after all my pains, and when I had really made a
very good likeness of it--(Mrs. Weston and I were quite agreed in thinking it very
like)--only too handsome--too flattering--
but that was a fault on the right side"-- after all this, came poor dear Isabella's
cold approbation of--"Yes, it was a little like--but to be sure it did not do him
We had had a great deal of trouble in persuading him to sit at all.
It was made a great favour of; and altogether it was more than I could bear;
and so I never would finish it, to have it apologised over as an unfavourable
likeness, to every morning visitor in
Brunswick Square;--and, as I said, I did then forswear ever drawing any body again.
But for Harriet's sake, or rather for my own, and as there are no husbands and wives
in the case at present, I will break my resolution now."
Mr. Elton seemed very properly struck and delighted by the idea, and was repeating,
"No husbands and wives in the case at present indeed, as you observe.
Exactly so.
No husbands and wives," with so interesting a consciousness, that Emma began to
consider whether she had not better leave them together at once.
But as she wanted to be drawing, the declaration must wait a little longer.
She had soon fixed on the size and sort of portrait.
It was to be a whole-length in water- colours, like Mr. John Knightley's, and was
destined, if she could please herself, to hold a very honourable station over the
The sitting began; and Harriet, smiling and blushing, and afraid of not keeping her
attitude and countenance, presented a very sweet mixture of youthful expression to the
steady eyes of the artist.
But there was no doing any thing, with Mr. Elton fidgeting behind her and watching
every touch.
She gave him credit for stationing himself where he might gaze and gaze again without
offence; but was really obliged to put an end to it, and request him to place himself
It then occurred to her to employ him in reading.
"If he would be so good as to read to them, it would be a kindness indeed!
It would amuse away the difficulties of her part, and lessen the irksomeness of Miss
Smith's." Mr. Elton was only too happy.
Harriet listened, and Emma drew in peace.
She must allow him to be still frequently coming to look; any thing less would
certainly have been too little in a lover; and he was ready at the smallest
intermission of the pencil, to jump up and
see the progress, and be charmed.--There was no being displeased with such an
encourager, for his admiration made him discern a likeness almost before it was
She could not respect his eye, but his love and his complaisance were unexceptionable.
The sitting was altogether very satisfactory; she was quite enough pleased
with the first day's sketch to wish to go on.
There was no want of likeness, she had been fortunate in the attitude, and as she meant
to throw in a little improvement to the figure, to give a little more height, and
considerably more elegance, she had great
confidence of its being in every way a pretty drawing at last, and of its filling
its destined place with credit to them both--a standing memorial of the beauty of
one, the skill of the other, and the
friendship of both; with as many other agreeable associations as Mr. Elton's very
promising attachment was likely to add.
Harriet was to sit again the next day; and Mr. Elton, just as he ought, entreated for
the permission of attending and reading to them again.
"By all means.
We shall be most happy to consider you as one of the party."
The same civilities and courtesies, the same success and satisfaction, took place
on the morrow, and accompanied the whole progress of the picture, which was rapid
and happy.
Every body who saw it was pleased, but Mr. Elton was in continual raptures, and
defended it through every criticism.
"Miss Woodhouse has given her friend the only beauty she wanted,"--observed Mrs.
Weston to him--not in the least suspecting that she was addressing a lover.--"The
expression of the eye is most correct, but
Miss Smith has not those eyebrows and eyelashes.
It is the fault of her face that she has them not."
"Do you think so?" replied he.
"I cannot agree with you. It appears to me a most perfect resemblance
in every feature. I never saw such a likeness in my life.
We must allow for the effect of shade, you know."
"You have made her too tall, Emma," said Mr. Knightley.
Emma knew that she had, but would not own it; and Mr. Elton warmly added,
"Oh no! certainly not too tall; not in the least too tall.
Consider, she is sitting down--which naturally presents a different--which in
short gives exactly the idea--and the proportions must be preserved, you know.
Proportions, fore-shortening.--Oh no! it gives one exactly the idea of such a height
as Miss Smith's. Exactly so indeed!"
"It is very pretty," said Mr. Woodhouse.
"So prettily done! Just as your drawings always are, my dear.
I do not know any body who draws so well as you do.
The only thing I do not thoroughly like is, that she seems to be sitting out of doors,
with only a little shawl over her shoulders--and it makes one think she must
catch cold."
"But, my dear papa, it is supposed to be summer; a warm day in summer.
Look at the tree." "But it is never safe to sit out of doors,
my dear."
"You, sir, may say any thing," cried Mr. Elton, "but I must confess that I regard it
as a most happy thought, the placing of Miss Smith out of doors; and the tree is
touched with such inimitable spirit!
Any other situation would have been much less in character.
The naivete of Miss Smith's manners--and altogether--Oh, it is most admirable!
I cannot keep my eyes from it.
I never saw such a likeness." The next thing wanted was to get the
picture framed; and here were a few difficulties.
It must be done directly; it must be done in London; the order must go through the
hands of some intelligent person whose taste could be depended on; and Isabella,
the usual doer of all commissions, must not
be applied to, because it was December, and Mr. Woodhouse could not bear the idea of
her stirring out of her house in the fogs of December.
But no sooner was the distress known to Mr. Elton, than it was removed.
His gallantry was always on the alert.
"Might he be trusted with the commission, what infinite pleasure should he have in
executing it! he could ride to London at any time.
It was impossible to say how much he should be gratified by being employed on such an
"He was too good!--she could not endure the thought!--she would not give him such a
troublesome office for the world,"--brought on the desired repetition of entreaties and
assurances,--and a very few minutes settled the business.
Mr. Elton was to take the drawing to London, chuse the frame, and give the
directions; and Emma thought she could so pack it as to ensure its safety without
much incommoding him, while he seemed
mostly fearful of not being incommoded enough.
"What a precious deposit!" said he with a tender sigh, as he received it.
"This man is almost too gallant to be in love," thought Emma.
"I should say so, but that I suppose there may be a hundred different ways of being in
He is an excellent young man, and will suit Harriet exactly; it will be an 'Exactly
so,' as he says himself; but he does sigh and languish, and study for compliments
rather more than I could endure as a principal.
I come in for a pretty good share as a second.
But it is his gratitude on Harriet's account."
The very day of Mr. Elton's going to London produced a fresh occasion for Emma's
services towards her friend.
Harriet had been at Hartfield, as usual, soon after breakfast; and, after a time,
had gone home to return again to dinner: she returned, and sooner than had been
talked of, and with an agitated, hurried
look, announcing something extraordinary to have happened which she was longing to
tell. Half a minute brought it all out.
She had heard, as soon as she got back to Mrs. Goddard's, that Mr. Martin had been
there an hour before, and finding she was not at home, nor particularly expected, had
left a little parcel for her from one of
his sisters, and gone away; and on opening this parcel, she had actually found,
besides the two songs which she had lent Elizabeth to copy, a letter to herself; and
this letter was from him, from Mr. Martin,
and contained a direct proposal of marriage.
"Who could have thought it? She was so surprized she did not know what
to do.
Yes, quite a proposal of marriage; and a very good letter, at least she thought so.
And he wrote as if he really loved her very much--but she did not know--and so, she was
come as fast as she could to ask Miss Woodhouse what she should do.--" Emma was
half-ashamed of her friend for seeming so pleased and so doubtful.
"Upon my word," she cried, "the young man is determined not to lose any thing for
want of asking.
He will connect himself well if he can." "Will you read the letter?" cried Harriet.
"Pray do. I'd rather you would."
Emma was not sorry to be pressed.
She read, and was surprized. The style of the letter was much above her
There were not merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition it would not
have disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain, was strong and unaffected,
and the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of the writer.
It was short, but expressed good sense, warm attachment, liberality, propriety,
even delicacy of feeling.
She paused over it, while Harriet stood anxiously watching for her opinion, with a
"Well, well," and was at last forced to add, "Is it a good letter? or is it too
"Yes, indeed, a very good letter," replied Emma rather slowly--"so good a letter,
Harriet, that every thing considered, I think one of his sisters must have helped
I can hardly imagine the young man whom I saw talking with you the other day could
express himself so well, if left quite to his own powers, and yet it is not the style
of a woman; no, certainly, it is too strong
and concise; not diffuse enough for a woman.
No doubt he is a sensible man, and I suppose may have a natural talent for--
thinks strongly and clearly--and when he takes a pen in hand, his thoughts naturally
find proper words.
It is so with some men. Yes, I understand the sort of mind.
Vigorous, decided, with sentiments to a certain point, not coarse.
A better written letter, Harriet (returning it,) than I had expected."
"Well," said the still waiting Harriet;-- "well--and--and what shall I do?"
"What shall you do!
In what respect? Do you mean with regard to this letter?"
"Yes." "But what are you in doubt of?
You must answer it of course--and speedily."
"Yes. But what shall I say? Dear Miss Woodhouse, do advise me."
"Oh no, no! the letter had much better be all your own.
You will express yourself very properly, I am sure.
There is no danger of your not being intelligible, which is the first thing.
Your meaning must be unequivocal; no doubts or demurs: and such expressions of
gratitude and concern for the pain you are inflicting as propriety requires, will
present themselves unbidden to your mind, I am persuaded.
You need not be prompted to write with the appearance of sorrow for his
"You think I ought to refuse him then," said Harriet, looking down.
"Ought to refuse him! My dear Harriet, what do you mean?
Are you in any doubt as to that?
I thought--but I beg your pardon, perhaps I have been under a mistake.
I certainly have been misunderstanding you, if you feel in doubt as to the purport of
your answer.
I had imagined you were consulting me only as to the wording of it."
Harriet was silent. With a little reserve of manner, Emma
"You mean to return a favourable answer, I collect."
"No, I do not; that is, I do not mean--What shall I do?
What would you advise me to do?
Pray, dear Miss Woodhouse, tell me what I ought to do."
"I shall not give you any advice, Harriet. I will have nothing to do with it.
This is a point which you must settle with your feelings."
"I had no notion that he liked me so very much," said Harriet, contemplating the
For a little while Emma persevered in her silence; but beginning to apprehend the
bewitching flattery of that letter might be too powerful, she thought it best to say,
"I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she
should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him.
If she can hesitate as to 'Yes,' she ought to say 'No' directly.
It is not a state to be safely entered into with doubtful feelings, with half a heart.
I thought it my duty as a friend, and older than yourself, to say thus much to you.
But do not imagine that I want to influence you."
"Oh! no, I am sure you are a great deal too kind to--but if you would just advise me
what I had best do--No, no, I do not mean that--As you say, one's mind ought to be
quite made up--One should not be
hesitating--It is a very serious thing.--It will be safer to say 'No,' perhaps.--Do you
think I had better say 'No?'" "Not for the world," said Emma, smiling
graciously, "would I advise you either way.
You must be the best judge of your own happiness.
If you prefer Mr. Martin to every other person; if you think him the most agreeable
man you have ever been in company with, why should you hesitate?
You blush, Harriet.--Does any body else occur to you at this moment under such a
Harriet, Harriet, do not deceive yourself; do not be run away with by gratitude and
compassion. At this moment whom are you thinking of?"
The symptoms were favourable.--Instead of answering, Harriet turned away confused,
and stood thoughtfully by the fire; and though the letter was still in her hand, it
was now mechanically twisted about without regard.
Emma waited the result with impatience, but not without strong hopes.
At last, with some hesitation, Harriet said--
"Miss Woodhouse, as you will not give me your opinion, I must do as well as I can by
myself; and I have now quite determined, and really almost made up my mind--to
refuse Mr. Martin.
Do you think I am right?" "Perfectly, perfectly right, my dearest
Harriet; you are doing just what you ought.
While you were at all in suspense I kept my feelings to myself, but now that you are so
completely decided I have no hesitation in approving.
Dear Harriet, I give myself joy of this.
It would have grieved me to lose your acquaintance, which must have been the
consequence of your marrying Mr. Martin.
While you were in the smallest degree wavering, I said nothing about it, because
I would not influence; but it would have been the loss of a friend to me.
I could not have visited Mrs. Robert Martin, of Abbey-Mill Farm.
Now I am secure of you for ever." Harriet had not surmised her own danger,
but the idea of it struck her forcibly.
"You could not have visited me!" she cried, looking aghast.
"No, to be sure you could not; but I never thought of that before.
That would have been too dreadful!--What an escape!--Dear Miss Woodhouse, I would not
give up the pleasure and honour of being intimate with you for any thing in the
"Indeed, Harriet, it would have been a severe pang to lose you; but it must have
been. You would have thrown yourself out of all
good society.
I must have given you up." "Dear me!--How should I ever have borne it!
It would have killed me never to come to Hartfield any more!"
"Dear affectionate creature!--You banished to Abbey-Mill Farm!--You
confined to the society of the illiterate and vulgar all your life!
I wonder how the young man could have the assurance to ask it.
He must have a pretty good opinion of himself."
"I do not think he is conceited either, in general," said Harriet, her conscience
opposing such censure; "at least, he is very good natured, and I shall always feel
much obliged to him, and have a great
regard for--but that is quite a different thing from--and you know, though he may
like me, it does not follow that I should-- and certainly I must confess that since my
visiting here I have seen people--and if
one comes to compare them, person and manners, there is no comparison at all,
one is so very handsome and agreeable.
However, I do really think Mr. Martin a very amiable young man, and have a great
opinion of him; and his being so much attached to me--and his writing such a
letter--but as to leaving you, it is what I would not do upon any consideration."
"Thank you, thank you, my own sweet little friend.
We will not be parted.
A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or because he is
attached to her, and can write a tolerable letter."
"Oh no;--and it is but a short letter too."
Emma felt the bad taste of her friend, but let it pass with a "very true; and it would
be a small consolation to her, for the clownish manner which might be offending
her every hour of the day, to know that her husband could write a good letter."
"Oh! yes, very. Nobody cares for a letter; the thing is, to
be always happy with pleasant companions.
I am quite determined to refuse him. But how shall I do?
What shall I say?"
Emma assured her there would be no difficulty in the answer, and advised its
being written directly, which was agreed to, in the hope of her assistance; and
though Emma continued to protest against
any assistance being wanted, it was in fact given in the formation of every sentence.
The looking over his letter again, in replying to it, had such a softening
tendency, that it was particularly necessary to brace her up with a few
decisive expressions; and she was so very
much concerned at the idea of making him unhappy, and thought so much of what his
mother and sisters would think and say, and was so anxious that they should not fancy
her ungrateful, that Emma believed if the
young man had come in her way at that moment, he would have been accepted after
all. This letter, however, was written, and
sealed, and sent.
The business was finished, and Harriet safe.
She was rather low all the evening, but Emma could allow for her amiable regrets,
and sometimes relieved them by speaking of her own affection, sometimes by bringing
forward the idea of Mr. Elton.
"I shall never be invited to Abbey-Mill again," was said in rather a sorrowful
tone. "Nor, if you were, could I ever bear to
part with you, my Harriet.
You are a great deal too necessary at Hartfield to be spared to Abbey-Mill."
"And I am sure I should never want to go there; for I am never happy but at
Some time afterwards it was, "I think Mrs. Goddard would be very much surprized if she
knew what had happened.
I am sure Miss Nash would--for Miss Nash thinks her own sister very well married,
and it is only a linen-draper."
"One should be sorry to see greater pride or refinement in the teacher of a school,
Harriet. I dare say Miss Nash would envy you such an
opportunity as this of being married.
Even this conquest would appear valuable in her eyes.
As to any thing superior for you, I suppose she is quite in the dark.
The attentions of a certain person can hardly be among the tittle-tattle of
Highbury yet.
Hitherto I fancy you and I are the only people to whom his looks and manners have
explained themselves."
Harriet blushed and smiled, and said something about wondering that people
should like her so much.
The idea of Mr. Elton was certainly cheering; but still, after a time, she was
tender-hearted again towards the rejected Mr. Martin.
"Now he has got my letter," said she softly.
"I wonder what they are all doing--whether his sisters know--if he is unhappy, they
will be unhappy too.
I hope he will not mind it so very much." "Let us think of those among our absent
friends who are more cheerfully employed," cried Emma.
"At this moment, perhaps, Mr. Elton is shewing your picture to his mother and
sisters, telling how much more beautiful is the original, and after being asked for it
five or six times, allowing them to hear your name, your own dear name."
"My picture!--But he has left my picture in Bond-street."
"Has he so!--Then I know nothing of Mr. Elton.
No, my dear little modest Harriet, depend upon it the picture will not be in Bond-
street till just before he mounts his horse to-morrow.
It is his companion all this evening, his solace, his delight.
It opens his designs to his family, it introduces you among them, it diffuses
through the party those pleasantest feelings of our nature, eager curiosity and
warm prepossession.
How cheerful, how animated, how suspicious, how busy their imaginations all are!"
Harriet smiled again, and her smiles grew stronger.
Harriet slept at Hartfield that night.
For some weeks past she had been spending more than half her time there, and
gradually getting to have a bed-room appropriated to herself; and Emma judged it
best in every respect, safest and kindest,
to keep her with them as much as possible just at present.
She was obliged to go the next morning for an hour or two to Mrs. Goddard's, but it
was then to be settled that she should return to Hartfield, to make a regular
visit of some days.
While she was gone, Mr. Knightley called, and sat some time with Mr. Woodhouse and
Emma, till Mr. Woodhouse, who had previously made up his mind to walk out,
was persuaded by his daughter not to defer
it, and was induced by the entreaties of both, though against the scruples of his
own civility, to leave Mr. Knightley for that purpose.
Mr. Knightley, who had nothing of ceremony about him, was offering by his short,
decided answers, an amusing contrast to the protracted apologies and civil hesitations
of the other.
"Well, I believe, if you will excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if you will not consider me
as doing a very rude thing, I shall take Emma's advice and go out for a quarter of
an hour.
As the sun is out, I believe I had better take my three turns while I can.
I treat you without ceremony, Mr. Knightley.
We invalids think we are privileged people."
"My dear sir, do not make a stranger of me."
"I leave an excellent substitute in my daughter.
Emma will be happy to entertain you.
And therefore I think I will beg your excuse and take my three turns--my winter
walk." "You cannot do better, sir."
"I would ask for the pleasure of your company, Mr. Knightley, but I am a very
slow walker, and my pace would be tedious to you; and, besides, you have another long
walk before you, to Donwell Abbey."
"Thank you, sir, thank you; I am going this moment myself; and I think the sooner you
go the better. I will fetch your greatcoat and open the
garden door for you."
Mr. Woodhouse at last was off; but Mr. Knightley, instead of being immediately off
likewise, sat down again, seemingly inclined for more chat.
He began speaking of Harriet, and speaking of her with more voluntary praise than Emma
had ever heard before.
"I cannot rate her beauty as you do," said he; "but she is a pretty little creature,
and I am inclined to think very well of her disposition.
Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good hands she will turn out a
valuable woman." "I am glad you think so; and the good
hands, I hope, may not be wanting."
"Come," said he, "you are anxious for a compliment, so I will tell you that you
have improved her. You have cured her of her school-girl's
giggle; she really does you credit."
"Thank you. I should be mortified indeed if I did not
believe I had been of some use; but it is not every body who will bestow praise where
they may.
You do not often overpower me with it." "You are expecting her again, you say, this
morning?" "Almost every moment.
She has been gone longer already than she intended."
"Something has happened to delay her; some visitors perhaps."
"Highbury gossips!--Tiresome wretches!"
"Harriet may not consider every body tiresome that you would."
Emma knew this was too true for contradiction, and therefore said nothing.
He presently added, with a smile,
"I do not pretend to fix on times or places, but I must tell you that I have
good reason to believe your little friend will soon hear of something to her
"Indeed! how so? of what sort?" "A very serious sort, I assure you;" still
smiling. "Very serious!
I can think of but one thing--Who is in love with her?
Who makes you their confidant?" Emma was more than half in hopes of Mr.
Elton's having dropt a hint.
Mr. Knightley was a sort of general friend and adviser, and she knew Mr. Elton looked
up to him.
"I have reason to think," he replied, "that Harriet Smith will soon have an offer of
marriage, and from a most unexceptionable quarter:--Robert Martin is the man.
Her visit to Abbey-Mill, this summer, seems to have done his business.
He is desperately in love and means to marry her."
"He is very obliging," said Emma; "but is he sure that Harriet means to marry him?"
"Well, well, means to make her an offer then.
Will that do?
He came to the Abbey two evenings ago, on purpose to consult me about it.
He knows I have a thorough regard for him and all his family, and, I believe,
considers me as one of his best friends.
He came to ask me whether I thought it would be imprudent in him to settle so
early; whether I thought her too young: in short, whether I approved his choice
altogether; having some apprehension
perhaps of her being considered (especially since your making so much of her) as in a
line of society above him. I was very much pleased with all that he
I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin.
He always speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well judging.
He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans, and what they all proposed doing
in the event of his marriage. He is an excellent young man, both as son
and brother.
I had no hesitation in advising him to marry.
He proved to me that he could afford it; and that being the case, I was convinced he
could not do better.
I praised the fair lady too, and altogether sent him away very happy.
If he had never esteemed my opinion before, he would have thought highly of me then;
and, I dare say, left the house thinking me the best friend and counsellor man ever
This happened the night before last.
Now, as we may fairly suppose, he would not allow much time to pass before he spoke to
the lady, and as he does not appear to have spoken yesterday, it is not unlikely that
he should be at Mrs. Goddard's to-day; and
she may be detained by a visitor, without thinking him at all a tiresome wretch."
"Pray, Mr. Knightley," said Emma, who had been smiling to herself through a great
part of this speech, "how do you know that Mr. Martin did not speak yesterday?"
"Certainly," replied he, surprized, "I do not absolutely know it; but it may be
inferred. Was not she the whole day with you?"
"Come," said she, "I will tell you something, in return for what you have told
me. He did speak yesterday--that is, he wrote,
and was refused."
This was obliged to be repeated before it could be believed; and Mr. Knightley
actually looked red with surprize and displeasure, as he stood up, in tall
indignation, and said,
"Then she is a greater simpleton than I ever believed her.
What is the foolish girl about?"
"Oh! to be sure," cried Emma, "it is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman
should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready
for any body who asks her."
"Nonsense! a man does not imagine any such thing.
But what is the meaning of this?
Harriet Smith refuse Robert Martin? madness, if it is so; but I hope you are
mistaken." "I saw her answer!--nothing could be
"You saw her answer!--you wrote her answer too.
Emma, this is your doing. You persuaded her to refuse him."
"And if I did, (which, however, I am far from allowing) I should not feel that I had
done wrong.
Mr. Martin is a very respectable young man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet's
equal; and am rather surprized indeed that he should have ventured to address her.
By your account, he does seem to have had some scruples.
It is a pity that they were ever got over."
"Not Harriet's equal!" exclaimed Mr. Knightley loudly and warmly; and with
calmer asperity, added, a few moments afterwards, "No, he is not her equal
indeed, for he is as much her superior in sense as in situation.
Emma, your infatuation about that girl blinds you.
What are Harriet Smith's claims, either of birth, nature or education, to any
connexion higher than Robert Martin?
She is the natural daughter of nobody knows whom, with probably no settled provision at
all, and certainly no respectable relations.
She is known only as parlour-boarder at a common school.
She is not a sensible girl, nor a girl of any information.
She has been taught nothing useful, and is too young and too simple to have acquired
any thing herself.
At her age she can have no experience, and with her little wit, is not very likely
ever to have any that can avail her. She is pretty, and she is good tempered,
and that is all.
My only scruple in advising the match was on his account, as being beneath his
deserts, and a bad connexion for him.
I felt that, as to fortune, in all probability he might do much better; and
that as to a rational companion or useful helpmate, he could not do worse.
But I could not reason so to a man in love, and was willing to trust to there being no
harm in her, to her having that sort of disposition, which, in good hands, like
his, might be easily led aright and turn out very well.
The advantage of the match I felt to be all on her side; and had not the smallest doubt
(nor have I now) that there would be a general cry-out upon her extreme good luck.
Even your satisfaction I made sure of.
It crossed my mind immediately that you would not regret your friend's leaving
Highbury, for the sake of her being settled so well.
I remember saying to myself, 'Even Emma, with all her partiality for Harriet, will
think this a good match.'" "I cannot help wondering at your knowing so
little of Emma as to say any such thing.
What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense and all his merit Mr. Martin is
nothing more,) a good match for my intimate friend!
Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man whom I could never
admit as an acquaintance of my own! I wonder you should think it possible for
me to have such feelings.
I assure you mine are very different. I must think your statement by no means
fair. You are not just to Harriet's claims.
They would be estimated very differently by others as well as myself; Mr. Martin may be
the richest of the two, but he is undoubtedly her inferior as to rank in
society.--The sphere in which she moves is
much above his.--It would be a degradation."
"A degradation to illegitimacy and ignorance, to be married to a respectable,
intelligent gentleman-farmer!"
"As to the circumstances of her birth, though in a legal sense she may be called
Nobody, it will not hold in common sense.
She is not to pay for the offence of others, by being held below the level of
those with whom she is brought up.--There can scarcely be a doubt that her father is
a gentleman--and a gentleman of fortune.--
Her allowance is very liberal; nothing has ever been grudged for her improvement or
comfort.--That she is a gentleman's daughter, is indubitable to me; that she
associates with gentlemen's daughters, no
one, I apprehend, will deny.--She is superior to Mr. Robert Martin."
"Whoever might be her parents," said Mr. Knightley, "whoever may have had the charge
of her, it does not appear to have been any part of their plan to introduce her into
what you would call good society.
After receiving a very indifferent education she is left in Mrs. Goddard's
hands to shift as she can;--to move, in short, in Mrs. Goddard's line, to have Mrs.
Goddard's acquaintance.
Her friends evidently thought this good enough for her; and it was good enough.
She desired nothing better herself.
Till you chose to turn her into a friend, her mind had no distaste for her own set,
nor any ambition beyond it. She was as happy as possible with the
Martins in the summer.
She had no sense of superiority then. If she has it now, you have given it.
You have been no friend to Harriet Smith, Emma.
Robert Martin would never have proceeded so far, if he had not felt persuaded of her
not being disinclined to him. I know him well.
He has too much real feeling to address any woman on the haphazard of selfish passion.
And as to conceit, he is the farthest from it of any man I know.
Depend upon it he had encouragement."
It was most convenient to Emma not to make a direct reply to this assertion; she chose
rather to take up her own line of the subject again.
"You are a very warm friend to Mr. Martin; but, as I said before, are unjust to
Harriet. Harriet's claims to marry well are not so
contemptible as you represent them.
She is not a clever girl, but she has better sense than you are aware of, and
does not deserve to have her understanding spoken of so slightingly.
Waiving that point, however, and supposing her to be, as you describe her, only pretty
and good-natured, let me tell you, that in the degree she possesses them, they are not
trivial recommendations to the world in
general, for she is, in fact, a beautiful girl, and must be thought so by ninety-nine
people out of an hundred; and till it appears that men are much more philosophic
on the subject of beauty than they are
generally supposed; till they do fall in love with well-informed minds instead of
handsome faces, a girl, with such loveliness as Harriet, has a certainty of
being admired and sought after, of having
the power of chusing from among many, consequently a claim to be nice.
Her good-nature, too, is not so very slight a claim, comprehending, as it does, real,
thorough sweetness of temper and manner, a very humble opinion of herself, and a great
readiness to be pleased with other people.
I am very much mistaken if your sex in general would not think such beauty, and
such temper, the highest claims a woman could possess."
"Upon my word, Emma, to hear you abusing the reason you have, is almost enough to
make me think so too. Better be without sense, than misapply it
as you do."
"To be sure!" cried she playfully. "I know that is the feeling of you all.
I know that such a girl as Harriet is exactly what every man delights in--what at
once bewitches his senses and satisfies his judgment.
Oh! Harriet may pick and chuse.
Were you, yourself, ever to marry, she is the very woman for you.
And is she, at seventeen, just entering into life, just beginning to be known, to
be wondered at because she does not accept the first offer she receives?
No--pray let her have time to look about her."
"I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy," said Mr. Knightley presently,
"though I have kept my thoughts to myself; but I now perceive that it will be a very
unfortunate one for Harriet.
You will puff her up with such ideas of her own beauty, and of what she has a claim to,
that, in a little while, nobody within her reach will be good enough for her.
Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.
Nothing so easy as for a young lady to raise her expectations too high.
Miss Harriet Smith may not find offers of marriage flow in so fast, though she is a
very pretty girl. Men of sense, whatever you may chuse to
say, do not want silly wives.
Men of family would not be very fond of connecting themselves with a girl of such
obscurity--and most prudent men would be afraid of the inconvenience and disgrace
they might be involved in, when the mystery of her parentage came to be revealed.
Let her marry Robert Martin, and she is safe, respectable, and happy for ever; but
if you encourage her to expect to marry greatly, and teach her to be satisfied with
nothing less than a man of consequence and
large fortune, she may be a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard's all the rest of her life-
-or, at least, (for Harriet Smith is a girl who will marry somebody or other,) till she
grow desperate, and is glad to catch at the old writing-master's son."
"We think so very differently on this point, Mr. Knightley, that there can be no
use in canvassing it.
We shall only be making each other more angry.
But as to my letting her marry Robert Martin, it is impossible; she has refused
him, and so decidedly, I think, as must prevent any second application.
She must abide by the evil of having refused him, whatever it may be; and as to
the refusal itself, I will not pretend to say that I might not influence her a
little; but I assure you there was very little for me or for any body to do.
His appearance is so much against him, and his manner so bad, that if she ever were
disposed to favour him, she is not now.
I can imagine, that before she had seen any body superior, she might tolerate him.
He was the brother of her friends, and he took pains to please her; and altogether,
having seen nobody better (that must have been his great assistant) she might not,
while she was at Abbey-Mill, find him disagreeable.
But the case is altered now.
She knows now what gentlemen are; and nothing but a gentleman in education and
manner has any chance with Harriet."
"Nonsense, errant nonsense, as ever was talked!" cried Mr. Knightley.--"Robert
Martin's manners have sense, sincerity, and good-humour to recommend them; and his mind
has more true gentility than Harriet Smith could understand."
Emma made no answer, and tried to look cheerfully unconcerned, but was really
feeling uncomfortable and wanting him very much to be gone.
She did not repent what she had done; she still thought herself a better judge of
such a point of female right and refinement than he could be; but yet she had a sort of
habitual respect for his judgment in
general, which made her dislike having it so loudly against her; and to have him
sitting just opposite to her in angry state, was very disagreeable.
Some minutes passed in this unpleasant silence, with only one attempt on Emma's
side to talk of the weather, but he made no answer.
He was thinking.
The result of his thoughts appeared at last in these words.
"Robert Martin has no great loss--if he can but think so; and I hope it will not be
long before he does.
Your views for Harriet are best known to yourself; but as you make no secret of your
love of match-making, it is fair to suppose that views, and plans, and projects you
have;--and as a friend I shall just hint to
you that if Elton is the man, I think it will be all labour in vain."
Emma laughed and disclaimed. He continued,
"Depend upon it, Elton will not do.
Elton is a very good sort of man, and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not
at all likely to make an imprudent match. He knows the value of a good income as well
as any body.
Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally.
He is as well acquainted with his own claims, as you can be with Harriet's.
He knows that he is a very handsome young man, and a great favourite wherever he
goes; and from his general way of talking in unreserved moments, when there are only
men present, I am convinced that he does not mean to throw himself away.
I have heard him speak with great animation of a large family of young ladies that his
sisters are intimate with, who have all twenty thousand pounds apiece."
"I am very much obliged to you," said Emma, laughing again.
"If I had set my heart on Mr. Elton's marrying Harriet, it would have been very
kind to open my eyes; but at present I only want to keep Harriet to myself.
I have done with match-making indeed.
I could never hope to equal my own doings at Randalls.
I shall leave off while I am well." "Good morning to you,"--said he, rising and
walking off abruptly.
He was very much vexed.
He felt the disappointment of the young man, and was mortified to have been the
means of promoting it, by the sanction he had given; and the part which he was
persuaded Emma had taken in the affair, was provoking him exceedingly.
Emma remained in a state of vexation too; but there was more indistinctness in the
causes of her's, than in his.
She did not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely
convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary's wrong, as Mr. Knightley.
He walked off in more complete self- approbation than he left for her.
She was not so materially cast down, however, but that a little time and the
return of Harriet were very adequate restoratives.
Harriet's staying away so long was beginning to make her uneasy.
The possibility of the young man's coming to Mrs. Goddard's that morning, and meeting
with Harriet and pleading his own cause, gave alarming ideas.
The dread of such a failure after all became the prominent uneasiness; and when
Harriet appeared, and in very good spirits, and without having any such reason to give
for her long absence, she felt a
satisfaction which settled her with her own mind, and convinced her, that let Mr.
Knightley think or say what he would, she had done nothing which woman's friendship
and woman's feelings would not justify.
He had frightened her a little about Mr. Elton; but when she considered that Mr.
Knightley could not have observed him as she had done, neither with the interest,
nor (she must be allowed to tell herself,
in spite of Mr. Knightley's pretensions) with the skill of such an observer on such
a question as herself, that he had spoken it hastily and in anger, she was able to
believe, that he had rather said what he
wished resentfully to be true, than what he knew any thing about.
He certainly might have heard Mr. Elton speak with more unreserve than she had ever
done, and Mr. Elton might not be of an imprudent, inconsiderate disposition as to
money matters; he might naturally be rather
attentive than otherwise to them; but then, Mr. Knightley did not make due allowance
for the influence of a strong passion at war with all interested motives.
Mr. Knightley saw no such passion, and of course thought nothing of its effects; but
she saw too much of it to feel a doubt of its overcoming any hesitations that a
reasonable prudence might originally
suggest; and more than a reasonable, becoming degree of prudence, she was very
sure did not belong to Mr. Elton.
Harriet's cheerful look and manner established hers: she came back, not to
think of Mr. Martin, but to talk of Mr. Elton.
Miss Nash had been telling her something, which she repeated immediately with great
Mr. Perry had been to Mrs. Goddard's to attend a sick child, and Miss Nash had seen
him, and he had told Miss Nash, that as he was coming back yesterday from Clayton
Park, he had met Mr. Elton, and found to
his great surprize, that Mr. Elton was actually on his road to London, and not
meaning to return till the morrow, though it was the whist-club night, which he had
been never known to miss before; and Mr.
Perry had remonstrated with him about it, and told him how shabby it was in him,
their best player, to absent himself, and tried very much to persuade him to put off
his journey only one day; but it would not
do; Mr. Elton had been determined to go on, and had said in a very particular way
indeed, that he was going on business which he would not put off for any inducement in
the world; and something about a very
enviable commission, and being the bearer of something exceedingly precious.
Mr. Perry could not quite understand him, but he was very sure there must be a lady
in the case, and he told him so; and Mr. Elton only looked very conscious and
smiling, and rode off in great spirits.
Miss Nash had told her all this, and had talked a great deal more about Mr. Elton;
and said, looking so very significantly at her, "that she did not pretend to
understand what his business might be, but
she only knew that any woman whom Mr. Elton could prefer, she should think the luckiest
woman in the world; for, beyond a doubt, Mr. Elton had not his equal for beauty or
Mr. Knightley might quarrel with her, but Emma could not quarrel with herself.
He was so much displeased, that it was longer than usual before he came to
Hartfield again; and when they did meet, his grave looks shewed that she was not
She was sorry, but could not repent. On the contrary, her plans and proceedings
were more and more justified and endeared to her by the general appearances of the
next few days.
The Picture, elegantly framed, came safely to hand soon after Mr. Elton's return, and
being hung over the mantelpiece of the common sitting-room, he got up to look at
it, and sighed out his half sentences of
admiration just as he ought; and as for Harriet's feelings, they were visibly
forming themselves into as strong and steady an attachment as her youth and sort
of mind admitted.
Emma was soon perfectly satisfied of Mr. Martin's being no otherwise remembered,
than as he furnished a contrast with Mr. Elton, of the utmost advantage to the
Her views of improving her little friend's mind, by a great deal of useful reading and
conversation, had never yet led to more than a few first chapters, and the
intention of going on to-morrow.
It was much easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination
range and work at Harriet's fortune, than to be labouring to enlarge her
comprehension or exercise it on sober
facts; and the only literary pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental
provision she was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing
all the riddles of every sort that she
could meet with, into a thin quarto of hot- pressed paper, made up by her friend, and
ornamented with ciphers and trophies. In this age of literature, such collections
on a very grand scale are not uncommon.
Miss Nash, head-teacher at Mrs. Goddard's, had written out at least three hundred; and
Harriet, who had taken the first hint of it from her, hoped, with Miss Woodhouse's
help, to get a great many more.
Emma assisted with her invention, memory and taste; and as Harriet wrote a very
pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of the first order, in form as
well as quantity.
Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the girls, and tried
very often to recollect something worth their putting in.
"So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young--he wondered he could not
remember them! but he hoped he should in time."
And it always ended in "Kitty, a fair but frozen maid."
His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the subject, did not at
present recollect any thing of the riddle kind; but he had desired Perry to be upon
the watch, and as he went about so much,
something, he thought, might come from that quarter.
It was by no means his daughter's wish that the intellects of Highbury in general
should be put under requisition.
Mr. Elton was the only one whose assistance she asked.
He was invited to contribute any really good enigmas, charades, or conundrums that
he might recollect; and she had the pleasure of seeing him most intently at
work with his recollections; and at the
same time, as she could perceive, most earnestly careful that nothing ungallant,
nothing that did not breathe a compliment to the sex should pass his lips.
They owed to him their two or three politest puzzles; and the joy and
exultation with which at last he recalled, and rather sentimentally recited, that
well-known charade,
My first doth affliction denote, Which my second is destin'd to feel
And my whole is the best antidote That affliction to soften and heal.--
made her quite sorry to acknowledge that they had transcribed it some pages ago
"Why will not you write one yourself for us, Mr. Elton?" said she; "that is the only
security for its freshness; and nothing could be easier to you."
"Oh no! he had never written, hardly ever, any thing of the kind in his life.
The stupidest fellow!
He was afraid not even Miss Woodhouse"--he stopt a moment--"or Miss Smith could
inspire him." The very next day however produced some
proof of inspiration.
He called for a few moments, just to leave a piece of paper on the table containing,
as he said, a charade, which a friend of his had addressed to a young lady, the
object of his admiration, but which, from
his manner, Emma was immediately convinced must be his own.
"I do not offer it for Miss Smith's collection," said he.
"Being my friend's, I have no right to expose it in any degree to the public eye,
but perhaps you may not dislike looking at it."
The speech was more to Emma than to Harriet, which Emma could understand.
There was deep consciousness about him, and he found it easier to meet her eye than her
He was gone the next moment:--after another moment's pause,
"Take it," said Emma, smiling, and pushing the paper towards Harriet--"it is for you.
Take your own."
But Harriet was in a tremor, and could not touch it; and Emma, never loth to be first,
was obliged to examine it herself.
To Miss--CHARADE. My first displays
the wealth and pomp of kings, Lords of the earth!
their luxury and ease.
Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!
But ah! united, what reverse we have!
Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown;
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.
Thy ready wit the word will soon supply,
May its approval beam in that soft eye!
She cast her eye over it, pondered, caught the meaning, read it through again to be
quite certain, and quite mistress of the lines, and then passing it to Harriet, sat
happily smiling, and saying to herself,
while Harriet was puzzling over the paper in all the confusion of hope and dulness,
"Very well, Mr. Elton, very well indeed. I have read worse charades.
Courtship--a very good hint.
I give you credit for it. This is feeling your way.
This is saying very plainly--'Pray, Miss Smith, give me leave to pay my addresses to
Approve my charade and my intentions in the same glance.'
May its approval beam in that soft eye! Harriet exactly.
Soft is the very word for her eye--of all epithets, the justest that could be given.
Thy ready wit the word will soon supply. Humph--Harriet's ready wit!
All the better.
A man must be very much in love, indeed, to describe her so.
Ah! Mr. Knightley, I wish you had the benefit of this; I think this would
convince you.
For once in your life you would be obliged to own yourself mistaken.
An excellent charade indeed! and very much to the purpose.
Things must come to a crisis soon now."
She was obliged to break off from these very pleasant observations, which were
otherwise of a sort to run into great length, by the eagerness of Harriet's
wondering questions.
"What can it be, Miss Woodhouse?--what can it be?
I have not an idea--I cannot guess it in the least.
What can it possibly be?
Do try to find it out, Miss Woodhouse. Do help me.
I never saw any thing so hard. Is it kingdom?
I wonder who the friend was--and who could be the young lady.
Do you think it is a good one? Can it be woman?
And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.
Can it be Neptune? Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!
Or a trident? or a mermaid? or a shark? Oh, no! shark is only one syllable.
It must be very clever, or he would not have brought it.
Oh! Miss Woodhouse, do you think we shall ever find it out?"
"Mermaids and sharks!
Nonsense! My dear Harriet, what are you thinking of?
Where would be the use of his bringing us a charade made by a friend upon a mermaid or
a shark?
Give me the paper and listen.
For Miss ------, read Miss Smith. My first displays
the wealth and pomp of kings, Lords of the earth!
their luxury and ease.
That is court. Another view of man,
my second brings; Behold him there,
the monarch of the seas!
That is ship;--plain as it can be.--Now for the cream.
But ah! united, (courtship, you know,) what reverse we have!
Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown.
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.
A very proper compliment!--and then follows the application, which I think, my dear
Harriet, you cannot find much difficulty in comprehending.
Read it in comfort to yourself.
There can be no doubt of its being written for you and to you."
Harriet could not long resist so delightful a persuasion.
She read the concluding lines, and was all flutter and happiness.
She could not speak. But she was not wanted to speak.
It was enough for her to feel.
Emma spoke for her. "There is so pointed, and so particular a
meaning in this compliment," said she, "that I cannot have a doubt as to Mr.
Elton's intentions.
You are his object--and you will soon receive the completest proof of it.
I thought it must be so.
I thought I could not be so deceived; but now, it is clear; the state of his mind is
as clear and decided, as my wishes on the subject have been ever since I knew you.
Yes, Harriet, just so long have I been wanting the very circumstance to happen
what has happened.
I could never tell whether an attachment between you and Mr. Elton were most
desirable or most natural. Its probability and its eligibility have
really so equalled each other!
I am very happy. I congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with
all my heart. This is an attachment which a woman may
well feel pride in creating.
This is a connexion which offers nothing but good.
It will give you every thing that you want- -consideration, independence, a proper
home--it will fix you in the centre of all your real friends, close to Hartfield and
to me, and confirm our intimacy for ever.
This, Harriet, is an alliance which can never raise a blush in either of us."
"Dear Miss Woodhouse!"--and "Dear Miss Woodhouse," was all that Harriet, with many
tender embraces could articulate at first; but when they did arrive at something more
like conversation, it was sufficiently
clear to her friend that she saw, felt, anticipated, and remembered just as she
ought. Mr. Elton's superiority had very ample
"Whatever you say is always right," cried Harriet, "and therefore I suppose, and
believe, and hope it must be so; but otherwise I could not have imagined it.
It is so much beyond any thing I deserve.
Mr. Elton, who might marry any body! There cannot be two opinions about him.
He is so very superior. Only think of those sweet verses--'To Miss
Dear me, how clever!--Could it really be meant for me?"
"I cannot make a question, or listen to a question about that.
It is a certainty.
Receive it on my judgment. It is a sort of prologue to the play, a
motto to the chapter; and will be soon followed by matter-of-fact prose."
"It is a sort of thing which nobody could have expected.
I am sure, a month ago, I had no more idea myself!--The strangest things do take
"When Miss Smiths and Mr. Eltons get acquainted--they do indeed--and really it
is strange; it is out of the common course that what is so evidently, so palpably
desirable--what courts the pre-arrangement
of other people, should so immediately shape itself into the proper form.
You and Mr. Elton are by situation called together; you belong to one another by
every circumstance of your respective homes.
Your marrying will be equal to the match at Randalls.
There does seem to be a something in the air of Hartfield which gives love exactly
the right direction, and sends it into the very channel where it ought to flow.
The course of true love never did run smooth--
A Hartfield edition of Shakespeare would have a long note on that passage."
"That Mr. Elton should really be in love with me,--me, of all people, who did not
know him, to speak to him, at Michaelmas!
And he, the very handsomest man that ever was, and a man that every body looks up to,
quite like Mr. Knightley!
His company so sought after, that every body says he need not eat a single meal by
himself if he does not chuse it; that he has more invitations than there are days in
the week.
And so excellent in the Church! Miss Nash has put down all the texts he has
ever preached from since he came to Highbury.
Dear me!
When I look back to the first time I saw him!
How little did I think!--The two Abbots and I ran into the front room and peeped
through the blind when we heard he was going by, and Miss Nash came and scolded us
away, and staid to look through herself;
however, she called me back presently, and let me look too, which was very good-
natured. And how beautiful we thought he looked!
He was arm-in-arm with Mr. Cole."
"This is an alliance which, whoever-- whatever your friends may be, must be
agreeable to them, provided at least they have common sense; and we are not to be
addressing our conduct to fools.
If they are anxious to see you happily married, here is a man whose amiable
character gives every assurance of it;--if they wish to have you settled in the same
country and circle which they have chosen
to place you in, here it will be accomplished; and if their only object is
that you should, in the common phrase, be well married, here is the comfortable
fortune, the respectable establishment, the rise in the world which must satisfy them."
"Yes, very true. How nicely you talk; I love to hear you.
You understand every thing.
You and Mr. Elton are one as clever as the other.
This charade!--If I had studied a twelvemonth, I could never have made any
thing like it."
"I thought he meant to try his skill, by his manner of declining it yesterday."
"I do think it is, without exception, the best charade I ever read."
"I never read one more to the purpose, certainly."
"It is as long again as almost all we have had before."
"I do not consider its length as particularly in its favour.
Such things in general cannot be too short."
Harriet was too intent on the lines to hear.
The most satisfactory comparisons were rising in her mind.
"It is one thing," said she, presently--her cheeks in a glow--"to have very good sense
in a common way, like every body else, and if there is any thing to say, to sit down
and write a letter, and say just what you
must, in a short way; and another, to write verses and charades like this."
Emma could not have desired a more spirited rejection of Mr. Martin's prose.
"Such sweet lines!" continued Harriet-- "these two last!--But how shall I ever be
able to return the paper, or say I have found it out?--Oh! Miss Woodhouse, what can
we do about that?"
"Leave it to me. You do nothing.
He will be here this evening, I dare say, and then I will give it him back, and some
nonsense or other will pass between us, and you shall not be committed.--Your soft eyes
shall chuse their own time for beaming.
Trust to me." "Oh! Miss Woodhouse, what a pity that I
must not write this beautiful charade into my book!
I am sure I have not got one half so good."
"Leave out the two last lines, and there is no reason why you should not write it into
your book." "Oh! but those two lines are"--
--"The best of all.
Granted;--for private enjoyment; and for private enjoyment keep them.
They are not at all the less written you know, because you divide them.
The couplet does not cease to be, nor does its meaning change.
But take it away, and all appropriation ceases, and a very pretty gallant charade
remains, fit for any collection.
Depend upon it, he would not like to have his charade slighted, much better than his
passion. A poet in love must be encouraged in both
capacities, or neither.
Give me the book, I will write it down, and then there can be no possible reflection on
Harriet submitted, though her mind could hardly separate the parts, so as to feel
quite sure that her friend were not writing down a declaration of love.
It seemed too precious an offering for any degree of publicity.
"I shall never let that book go out of my own hands," said she.
"Very well," replied Emma; "a most natural feeling; and the longer it lasts, the
better I shall be pleased. But here is my father coming: you will not
object to my reading the charade to him.
It will be giving him so much pleasure! He loves any thing of the sort, and
especially any thing that pays woman a compliment.
He has the tenderest spirit of gallantry towards us all!--You must let me read it to
him." Harriet looked grave.
"My dear Harriet, you must not refine too much upon this charade.--You will betray
your feelings improperly, if you are too conscious and too quick, and appear to
affix more meaning, or even quite all the meaning which may be affixed to it.
Do not be overpowered by such a little tribute of admiration.
If he had been anxious for secrecy, he would not have left the paper while I was
by; but he rather pushed it towards me than towards you.
Do not let us be too solemn on the business.
He has encouragement enough to proceed, without our sighing out our souls over this
"Oh! no--I hope I shall not be ridiculous about it.
Do as you please."
Mr. Woodhouse came in, and very soon led to the subject again, by the recurrence of his
very frequent inquiry of "Well, my dears, how does your book go on?--Have you got any
thing fresh?"
"Yes, papa; we have something to read you, something quite fresh.
A piece of paper was found on the table this morning--(dropt, we suppose, by a
fairy)--containing a very pretty charade, and we have just copied it in."
She read it to him, just as he liked to have any thing read, slowly and distinctly,
and two or three times over, with explanations of every part as she
proceeded--and he was very much pleased,
and, as she had foreseen, especially struck with the complimentary conclusion.
"Aye, that's very just, indeed, that's very properly said.
Very true.
'Woman, lovely woman.' It is such a pretty charade, my dear, that
I can easily guess what fairy brought it.-- Nobody could have written so prettily, but
you, Emma."
Emma only nodded, and smiled.--After a little thinking, and a very tender sigh, he
added, "Ah! it is no difficulty to see who you
take after!
Your dear mother was so clever at all those things!
If I had but her memory!
But I can remember nothing;--not even that particular riddle which you have heard me
mention; I can only recollect the first stanza; and there are several.
Kitty, a fair but frozen maid, Kindled a flame I yet deplore,
The hood-wink'd boy I called to aid, Though of his near approach afraid,
So fatal to my suit before.
And that is all that I can recollect of it- -but it is very clever all the way through.
But I think, my dear, you said you had got it."
"Yes, papa, it is written out in our second page.
We copied it from the Elegant Extracts. It was Garrick's, you know."
"Aye, very true.--I wish I could recollect more of it.
Kitty, a fair but frozen maid.
The name makes me think of poor Isabella; for she was very near being christened
Catherine after her grandmama. I hope we shall have her here next week.
Have you thought, my dear, where you shall put her--and what room there will be for
the children?"
"Oh! yes--she will have her own room, of course; the room she always has;--and there
is the nursery for the children,--just as usual, you know.
Why should there be any change?"
"I do not know, my dear--but it is so long since she was here!--not since last Easter,
and then only for a few days.--Mr. John Knightley's being a lawyer is very
inconvenient.--Poor Isabella!--she is sadly
taken away from us all!--and how sorry she will be when she comes, not to see Miss
Taylor here!" "She will not be surprized, papa, at
"I do not know, my dear. I am sure I was very much surprized when I
first heard she was going to be married." "We must ask Mr. and Mrs. Weston to dine
with us, while Isabella is here."
"Yes, my dear, if there is time.--But--(in a very depressed tone)--she is coming for
only one week. There will not be time for any thing."
"It is unfortunate that they cannot stay longer--but it seems a case of necessity.
Mr. John Knightley must be in town again on the 28th, and we ought to be thankful,
papa, that we are to have the whole of the time they can give to the country, that two
or three days are not to be taken out for the Abbey.
Mr. Knightley promises to give up his claim this Christmas--though you know it is
longer since they were with him, than with us."
"It would be very hard, indeed, my dear, if poor Isabella were to be anywhere but at
Mr. Woodhouse could never allow for Mr. Knightley's claims on his brother, or any
body's claims on Isabella, except his own. He sat musing a little while, and then
"But I do not see why poor Isabella should be obliged to go back so soon, though he
does. I think, Emma, I shall try and persuade her
to stay longer with us.
She and the children might stay very well." "Ah! papa--that is what you never have been
able to accomplish, and I do not think you ever will.
Isabella cannot bear to stay behind her husband."
This was too true for contradiction.
Unwelcome as it was, Mr. Woodhouse could only give a submissive sigh; and as Emma
saw his spirits affected by the idea of his daughter's attachment to her husband, she
immediately led to such a branch of the subject as must raise them.
"Harriet must give us as much of her company as she can while my brother and
sister are here.
I am sure she will be pleased with the children.
We are very proud of the children, are not we, papa?
I wonder which she will think the handsomest, Henry or John?"
"Aye, I wonder which she will. Poor little dears, how glad they will be to
They are very fond of being at Hartfield, Harriet."
"I dare say they are, sir. I am sure I do not know who is not."
"Henry is a fine boy, but John is very like his mama.
Henry is the eldest, he was named after me, not after his father.
John, the second, is named after his father.
Some people are surprized, I believe, that the eldest was not, but Isabella would have
him called Henry, which I thought very pretty of her.
And he is a very clever boy, indeed.
They are all remarkably clever; and they have so many pretty ways.
They will come and stand by my chair, and say, 'Grandpapa, can you give me a bit of
string?' and once Henry asked me for a knife, but I told him knives were only made
for grandpapas.
I think their father is too rough with them very often."
"He appears rough to you," said Emma, "because you are so very gentle yourself;
but if you could compare him with other papas, you would not think him rough.
He wishes his boys to be active and hardy; and if they misbehave, can give them a
sharp word now and then; but he is an affectionate father--certainly Mr. John
Knightley is an affectionate father.
The children are all fond of him." "And then their uncle comes in, and tosses
them up to the ceiling in a very frightful way!"
"But they like it, papa; there is nothing they like so much.
It is such enjoyment to them, that if their uncle did not lay down the rule of their
taking turns, whichever began would never give way to the other."
"Well, I cannot understand it."
"That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the
pleasures of the other."
Later in the morning, and just as the girls were going to separate in preparation for
the regular four o'clock dinner, the hero of this inimitable charade walked in again.
Harriet turned away; but Emma could receive him with the usual smile, and her quick eye
soon discerned in his the consciousness of having made a push--of having thrown a die;
and she imagined he was come to see how it might turn up.
His ostensible reason, however, was to ask whether Mr. Woodhouse's party could be made
up in the evening without him, or whether he should be in the smallest degree
necessary at Hartfield.
If he were, every thing else must give way; but otherwise his friend Cole had been
saying so much about his dining with him-- had made such a point of it, that he had
promised him conditionally to come.
Emma thanked him, but could not allow of his disappointing his friend on their
account; her father was sure of his rubber.
He re-urged--she re-declined; and he seemed then about to make his bow, when taking the
paper from the table, she returned it--
"Oh! here is the charade you were so obliging as to leave with us; thank you for
the sight of it. We admired it so much, that I have ventured
to write it into Miss Smith's collection.
Your friend will not take it amiss I hope. Of course I have not transcribed beyond the
first eight lines." Mr. Elton certainly did not very well know
what to say.
He looked rather doubtingly--rather confused; said something about "honour,"--
glanced at Emma and at Harriet, and then seeing the book open on the table, took it
up, and examined it very attentively.
With the view of passing off an awkward moment, Emma smilingly said,
"You must make my apologies to your friend; but so good a charade must not be confined
to one or two.
He may be sure of every woman's approbation while he writes with such gallantry."
"I have no hesitation in saying," replied Mr. Elton, though hesitating a good deal
while he spoke; "I have no hesitation in saying--at least if my friend feels at all
as I do--I have not the smallest doubt
that, could he see his little effusion honoured as I see it, (looking at the
book again, and replacing it on the table), he would consider it as the proudest moment
of his life."
After this speech he was gone as soon as possible.
Emma could not think it too soon; for with all his good and agreeable qualities, there
was a sort of parade in his speeches which was very apt to incline her to laugh.
She ran away to indulge the inclination, leaving the tender and the sublime of
pleasure to Harriet's share.